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The Taxidermist's Guide
A COMPLETE INSTRUCTOR
IN THE ART OF
Collecting, Preparing, Mounting and
Preserving all kinds of Animals,
Birds, Fishes, Reptiles and Insects.
ADAPTED FOR THE USE OF
AMATEURS TRAVELLERS AND PRACTICAL WORKERS.
PuJhliislxecl fox- tlxo Trade.
The Skeleton of the Falco Palumbarius, or Goshawk, showing
the manner in which it is supported by a small iron rod; and
also the names of the bones.
a. Ball of the Ulna.— b, b, b. The vertebrae of the neck, or cer-
vical vertebra.— c and d. The Sternum.— e, e. The Tarsus.—/,/.
The Fibula.— g. The Tibia.— h, h. The metacarpal bones.— i, j. The
Ulna.— m. The Pelvis.— n. The Os Coccygis.— q. The Clavicle.—
s. Vertebras of the back.— t The Os Humeri.
Tib ■ '&'
THE TAXIDERMIST'S GUIDE.
SKINNING, PREPARING, AND MOUNTING THE MAMMALIA,
When a quadruped is killed, and its skin intended for stuffing,
the preparatory steps are to lay the animal on its back, and plug
up its nostrils, mouth, and any wounds it may have received,
with cotton or tow, to prevent the blood from disfiguring the
skin. The fox will serve admirably our purpose as an example.
Therefore, Reynard being procured, we need not say how, lay
him on his back in the same position as before recommended ;
and, having first stuffed the mouth with cotton and tied it up, and
measured his neck and body with rule and calipers, and noted
them, proceed. Make an incision from the last rib nearly to the
vent, but not quite up to it. Having done so, proceed to raise the
skin all round the incision as far as the thighs, first skinning one
side and then the other, using the flat end of the knife in prefer-
ence to the blade to raise the skin. Having reached the hind
legs, separate the latter at the femur or thigh-bone, close to the
back-bone, leaving the legs attached to the skin. Now skin the
head-quarters close up to the tail, and separate it from the body
at the last vertebrae, taking care not to injure the skin. Puli the
skin over the heads of the hip-joints, and now the carcase may be
8 THE taxidermist's guide.
suspended by the hind-quarters, while the skin is stripped by pul-
ling it gently and cutting towards the fore-quarters. The fore
legs are separated from the body, as the hind ones had been, close
to the shoulder-bone, and the skin fairly pulled over the head and
close to the nose, when the head is separated from the body by
cutting through the last vertebrae of the neck. Reynard is nuw
skinned, the head, legs, and tail being all attached to the skin,
from which the carcase is separated.
The flesh is now cut entirely away from the cheek-bones v the
eyes removed, the brains taken out by enlarging the occipital
opening behind the cranium, the whole cleaned and supplied with
a coating of arsenical paste, and stuffed with tow or wool, to the
The legs are now successively skinned by pushing out the bones
and inverting the skin ov<er them until the foot-joint is visible ;
every portion of flesh and tendons must be cut away, and the bone
cleaned thoroughly, and a coating of arsenical soap laid over it
as well as the skin. Wrap tow, or cotton, or any other suitable
material, round the bone, bringing it to its natural shape, and
draw the skin over it again. Do this to each leg in succession,
and the body itself is ready for stuffing and mounting.
The utmost care will not prevent accidents ; the fur and plum-
age will get sullied, and before stuffing it is well to examine the
skin, for stains and spots are calculated to deteriorate its appear-
ance. Grease or blood-spots may be removed by brushing over
with oil of turpentine, which is afterwards absorbed by dusting
plaster of Paris over. Macgillivray recommends that all skins,
whether they are to be put away in a cabinet or stuffed, should
receive a washing of spirits of turpentine sprinkled on, and
gently brushed in the direction of the feathers or fur. Not to
trust too much to memory, it is desirable to measure and note the
proportions of the animal before skinning, first taking the muz-
zle to the tail. Afterwards, from the junction of the tail to the
tip. Secondly, from the middle of the shoulder-blade, or scapula,
to the articulation of the femur, or thigh-bone. Thirdly, the ani-
mal being placed on its side, measure from the upper part of the
scnpula to the middle of the sternum— that is, to the spot where
the two sides meet above, and finally from the socket of the
scapula to the socket of the articulation of the femur, or thigh.
bone. In addition to these, note, by measurement with caliper
compasses, the size of the head, the neck, the tail, and other
points which affect the shape of the animal. These measure-
ments will serve as a guide in stuffing, and for the size of the case
and length of the mounting wires. In the process of skinning, it
is important to avoid penetrating to the intestines, or separating
any of the abdominal muscles which lead to the intestines ; any
such accident would be very disagreeable, as well as injurious to
STUFFING QUADRUPEDS, ETC.
Let us suppose the animal which we intend to stuff, to be a Cat.
Wire of such a thickness is chosen as will support the animal by
being introduced under the soles of the feet, and running it
through each of the four legs. A piece of smaller dimensions is
then taken, measuring about two feet, for the purpose of forming,
what is termed by stuffers, a tail-bearer. This piece of wire is
bent at nearly a third of its length, into an oval of about six
inches in length ; the two ends are twisted together, so as to leave
one of them somewhat longer than the other ; the tail is then cor-
rectly measured, and the wire is cut to the length of it, besides
the oval. The wire is then wrapped round with flax in a spiral
form, which must be increased in thickness as it approaches the
oval, so as to be nearly equal to the dimensions of the largest ver-
tebrae, or root of the tail. When finished, it should be rubbed
thinly over with flour paste, to preserve its smooth form, which
must be allowed to dry thoroughly, and then the surface should
receive a coating of the preservative. The sheath of the tail must
now be rubbed inside with the preservative. This is applied with
a small quantity of lint, attached to the end of a wire, long enough
to reach the point of the tail-sheath. The tail-bearer is then in-
serted into the sheath, and the oval part of the wire placed within
the skin of the belly, and attached to the longitudinal wire, which
is substituted for the vertebras or back-bone.
Four pieces of wire, about the thickness of a crow-quill, are
then taken, which must be the length of the legs, and another
piece a foot or fifteen inches longer than the body. One end of
THE TAXIDERMIST'S GUIDE.
Manner of inserting the zoires in mounting a Cat
each of these is sharpened with a file, in a triangular shape, so
that it may the more easily penetrate the parts. At the blunt
end of the longest piece a ring is formed, large enough to admit
of the point of a finger entering it ; this is done by bending the
wire back on itself a turn and a half, by the assistance of the
round pincers. On the same wire another ring is formed in a
similar manner, consisting of one entire turn, and so situated as
to reach just between the animal's shoulders. The remaining
part of this wire should "be perfectly straight, and triangularly
pointed at the exremity.
Another method of forming the supporting wires, as practised
by M. Nichols, is to take a central wire, which must be the length
of the head, neck, body and tail of the Cat, as in fig. 1, that is,
from a to b y but the tail at b is shorten^ owing to want of room
in the plate ; two other pieces are then taken and twisted round
the centre piece, in the manner represented in fig. 1, c, d, e, /,
these extremities being left for the leg wires. After the wires are
' thus twisted together, the central one is pulled out ; and the feet
wires* of one side are pushed through the legs of one side from the
inside of the skin, and the other two leg pieces are bent and also
forced through the legs, and afterwards made straight by a pair
of pincers ; the centre piece, having been previously sharpened at
one end with a file, is now forced through the forehead and down
the neck, till it enter the centre of the twisted leg wires which it
formerly occupied, and pushed forward to the extremity of the
tail, leaving a small piece projecting out of the forehead, as re-
presented in fig. 1. After which, the completion of the stuffing
is proceeded with.
This mode is unnecessary for the smaller animals, and it
should only be adopted for quadrupeds the size of Deer, &c.
These wires are besides much more difficult to insert by this than
by the other method.
All the wires being adjusted, the operation of stuffing is next
proceeded with. The skin of the Cat is now extended on a table ;
and the end of the noose seized with the left hand, and pushed
again into the skin, till it reaches the neck, when we receive the
bones of the head into the right hand. The skull is now well
t rubbed over with the arsenical soap, and all the cavities which
the muscles before occupied, are filled with chopped tow, flax, or
12 THE taxidermist's guide.
cotton well mixed with preserving powder. The long piece of
wire is now passed into the middle of the skull, and after it is well
rubbed over with the preservative, it is returned into the skin.
The inner surface of the neck- skin is now anointed, and stuffed
with chopped flax, taking care not to disten4 it too much. Noth-
ing like pressure should be applied, as the frgsh skin is suscep-
tible of much expansion.
Observe that it is always the inner surface which is anointed
with the arsenical soap.
Take care that the first ring of the wire, which passes into the
head, is in the direction of the shoulders, and the second corres-
ponding with the pelvis, or somwhat towards the posterior part.
One of the fore-leg wires is then inserted along the back of the
bone, and the point passed out under the highest ball of the paw.
When this is accomplished, the bones of the leg are drawn up
within the skin of the body, and the wire fastened to the bones
of the arm and fore-arm with strong thread, or small twine.
Brass wire, used for piano-forte strings, makes it more secure,
and is not liable to rot. These are well anointed, and flax or tow
slivers wrapped round them, so as to supply the place of the mus-
cles which have been removed. To give the natural rise to the
larger muscles, a piece of silver should be cut off the length of the
protuberance required, and placed in the part, and the silver
wrapped over it. This gives it a very natural appearance.
The mode of fixing the legs, is by passing one of their pieces of
wire into the small ring of the horizontal or middle supporting
wire. Pursue the same plan with the other leg, and then twist
the two ends firmly together, by the aid of a pair of flat pincers.
For an animal of the size of a Cat, the pieces left for twisting must
be from five to six inches in length. After being twisted, they
are bound on the under side of the body wire, with strong thread :
the two legs are then replaced, and put in the form in which we
intend to fix them. The skin of the belly and top of the shoulders
is then anointed, and a thick layer of flax placed under the mid-
dle wire. The shape is now given to the scapulae on both sides,
and all the muscles of the shoulders imitated. These will be eleva-
ted or depressed, according to the action intended to be expressed.
The anterior part of the opening is now sewed up, to retain
the stuffing, and to enable us to complete the formation of the
shoulders and junction of the neck. This part of the animal is of
great importance, as regards the perfection of its form ; and much
of its beauty will depend upon this being well executed.
If the animal has been recently skinned, the best plan possible
is to imitate, as nearly as possible, the muscles of the carcase ; by
which many parts will be noticed which might otherwise have
been neglected. As a rule, copy Nature whenever you have
IT IN YOUR POWER.
It must be observed as a general rule, that the wires for the
hind legs of quadrupeds should alwaj^s be longer than those of
the fore legs.
The next thing is to form the hind legs and thighs, which must
be done, as aboye described for the fore legs ; but with this dif-
ference, that they must be wound round with thread, drawn
through the stuffing at intervals, to prevent it slipping up when
returned into the skin of the leg. They are then fixed, by pass-
ing the leg wires into a second ring of the centre body wire,
which is situated at or near the pelvis ; the two ends are then
bent, twisting them to the right and left around the ring : and to
make them still more secure, they should be wound round with
small brass wire or packthread ; the tail-bearer is then attached
in the manner formerly described.
Having completed this part of the iron work, the skin of the
thighs is coated inside with the preservative, and the stuffing com-
pleted with chopped flax or tow. The whole inner parts of the
skin which can be reached are again anointed, and the body
stuffing completed with chopped flax. Care must be also paid not
to stuff the belly too much, as the skin very easily dilates. The in-
cision in the belly is now closed by bringing the skin together, and
then sewed wdthin and without ; while attention is paid to divide
the hairs, and not to take any of them in along with the thread ;
but should any of them be inadvertently fixed, they can be picked
out easily with a point. When this is completed, the hair will
resume its natural order, and completely conceal the seam.
The seam should now be well primed, on both sides, with
the solution of corrosive sublimate, to prevent the entrance of
The articulations of the legs are then bent, and the animal
placed on its fee* ; and pressure used at the natural flat places, scv
as to mako V^ o 4 hr>r ^rt* rre vivr™ f^ »*»— ^i*<i — ^ — " ] ->
14 THE TAXIDEEMIST'S GUIDE.
A board is now prepared, on which to place the Cat. But
before fixing it permanently, the animal should be set in the
attitude in which it is intended to be preserved, and the operator,
having satisfied himself, then pierces four holes for the admission
of the feet wires, which must be drawn through with a pair of
pincers till the paws rest firmly on the board. Small grooves
are then made for the reception of the pieces of wires which
have been drawn through, so that they may be folded back and
pressed down in them, and not be beyond the level of the back
of the board ; wire nails are now driven half in, and their heads
bent down on the wires to prevent them from getting loose, or
The stuffer next directs his attention to the position and final
stuffing of the head and neck. The muscles of the face must be
imitated as correctly as possible, by stuffing in cotton at the
opening of the eyes, as also at the mouth, ears, and nostrils. To
aid in this, also, the inruer materials may be drawn forward by
the assistance of instruments, and also small pieces of j wqod
formed like small knitting meshes.
Our next care is the insertion of the eyes, which must be done
while the eyelids are yet fresh. Some dexterity and skill are
required in this operation, and on it will depend most of the
beauty and character of the head. The seats of the eyes are
supplied with a little cement, the eyes put in their place, and the
eyelids properly drawn over the eyeballs ; but if rage or fear are
to be expressed, a considerable portion of the eyeballs must be
exposed. The lips are afterwards disposed in their natural state,
and fastened with pins. If the mouth is intended to be open, it
will be necessary to support the lips with cotton, which can be
removed when they are dry. Two small balls of cotton, firmly
pressed together, and well tinctured with the arsenical soap, must
be thrust into the nostrils so as to completely plug them up
to prevent the air from penetrating, as also the intrusion of
moths ; and besides, it has the effect of preserving the natural
shape of the nose after it has dried. The same precaution should
be adopted with the ears, which, in the Cat, require but little
attention in setting.
We must again recommend the stuffer to see that he has suf-
ficiently applied the preservative soap ; and the nose, lips, eyes,
and paws, being very liable to decay, must be well imbued with
spirits of turpentine. This is applied with a brush, and must be
repeated six or eight times, at intervals of some days, until we aje
certain of the parts being well primed with it ; and, after all, it
will be advisable to give it a single coating of the solution of
The methods of stuffing, which we have pointed out in the
preceding pages, are applicable to all animals, from a Lion
down to the smallest Mouse. Animals of a large description
require a frame-work suited to their dimensions ; these we will
point out in their order. There are also some animals whose
peculiarity of structure requires treatment differing a little from
the ordinary course.
APES AND MONKEYS.
One of the chief difficulties to contend with, in setting up
Monkeys and Apes, is the preservation of their hands and hind
hands, or what we commonly call their feet ; because we must
not attempt to deprive these limbs of their flesh, as we never
could again supply its place anything like what is in nature.
The hands must therefore be dried, and then well imbued with
turpentine and the solution of corrosive sublimate, repeated eight
or ten times at least, at intervals of four or five clays. The other
parts of the stuffing should be exactly similar to that recom-
mended for quadrupeds generally. The paws of several will
require to be colored with the different varnishes, and, when dry,
slightly polished with fine sand paper to remove the gloss. The
callosities, on the hinder parts of many of them, will also require
to be colored, and treated in the same way as the face.
The wing-membranes of this varied and numerous tribe do not
require either wire or parchment to set them. They are very
easily dried by distension. They are laid on a board of soft
wood, the wings extended and pinned equally at the articulations,
and, when dry, they are removed from the board.
When it is wished to preserve Hedgehogs, rolled into a ball,
which is a very common position with them in a state of nature,
THE TAXIDERMIST S GUIDE.
there should be much less stuffing put into them than is usual
with quadrupeds, so that they may the more easily bend. No
wires are required in this case. The head and feet are drawn
clos3 together under the belly ; then place the animal on its back
in the middle of a large cloth, and tie the four ends firmly
together ; suspend it in the air till thoroughly dry, which finishes
If Hedgehogs are wished with the heads and limbs exposed,
the usual method of mounting is adopted. The skins of Mice,
Moles, &c, having a very offensive smell, it will be necessary to
add a considerable portion of the tincture of musk to the solution
of the corrosive sublimate with which the skins are imbued.
The same applies to Badgers, Wolverenes, Polecats and Skunks,
all of which are strong smelling animals.
The structure of the wires requires to be different in these
larger animals from any we have before described.
Procure a bar one inch thick, two inches broad, and as long as
to reach horizontally from the shoulders to the connection of the
thighs, or os pubis. A hole is bored four inches distant from one
of its ends, from which a connecting groove must be formed,
extending on both sides to the end of the plank next the hole ;
this groove must be cut out with a hollow chisel deep enough
to receive the wire. The wire is then passed through it, one end
of which is just long enough to be twisted with the other at the
end of the plank. The wire on both sides is now pressed down
into the grooves and twisted firmly together by the aid of a pair
of strong pincers. Pierce some holes obliquely into the groove
and insert some wire nails into them, which must be firmly
driven home, and then bent over the wires to keep them firm.
The longest end of the wire should be at least eighteen inches
beyond the bar so as to pass through the skull of the animal.
The use of this bar, it will be observed, is a substitute for the
central or supporting wires of the body. Two other holes are
now bored into it, the one two, and the other three inches from
the end which we first pierced ; these are for the reception of
the wires of the fore legs ; and two similar holes must be made
at the o'jier extremity of the bar for receiving the wires of the
SKINNING. 1 7
Bears always support themselves on the full expansion of their
dilated paws, so that it is necessary to bring the leg-wires out at
the claws. The leg-wires are bent at right angles for a length of
five inches from the upper end. These are put through the holes
in the bar, and when they have passed through they are curved
again. Two small gimlet-holes are then made for the reception
of smaller wire, by which the leg-wires must be bound together
close to the bar. The fore leg wires are fixed in the same man-
ner, which completes the framework.
No other means are used for middle-sized animals, such as the
Lion, Tiger, Leopard, &c. The stuffing is completed as in other
The "Walrus, Seals, and other amphibious animals of this order,
are treated in the manner of quadrupeds generally, only that teg-
wires are unnecessary, except in the fore-feet ; the tail, which rep-
resents the hind feet, has merely to be dried and kept properly
stretched in during this process, which precaution also applies to
the fore-feet. They are the easiest stuffed of all animals, only
the skins a/e very oily ; they should be well rubbed with the ar-
senical soap, and also with the preserving powder.
The stuffing of the Walrus, and other large animals of this
family, should consist of well dried hay for the interior parts and
tow for the ^surface next the skin.
The Beaver, Musk Bat, , Common Bat, and other animals whose
skins have a strong smell. These require to be plentifully sup-
plied with the preservative. The tail of the Beaver should be
cut underneath, and all the flesh removed, then stuffed with tow
or chopped flax, and afterwards thoroughly dried and well
primed with the arsenical soap to prevent putrefaction, to which
it is very liable. It should also have repeated washings with oil
of turpentine. The back should be round and short.
In stuffing this animal considerable and varied expression may
be given, both from the attitude and disposition of the quills.
Great attention is therefore required in giving these a proper set
during the process of drying. They will require to be looked at
18 THE TAXIDERMIST'S GUIDE.
several times during the first and second day after they have been
stuffed, and any of them that may have fallen out of the position
required, to be adjusted.
HARES ATS T D RABBITS.
A very pretty attitude for the Hare or Eabbit, is to have it
seated in its form in an upright position, as if alarmed at the noise
of dogs, &c. An oval is formed of wire and attached to the in-
terior framework, after having passed one end of it through the
anus, which must be passed through a hole in the board on which
the animal is to be fixed. The wires of the hind legs must be
forced through the posterior part of them, and also fixed into
holes formed for their reception in the board.
DEER, ANTELOPES, GOATS, ETC.
These animals should be mounted on the same principles as
recommended for the Bears. A different mode must, however,
be adopted in skinning the animals, which the horns render
necessary. It is performed in the ordinary manner until the
operator reaches the neck. After cutting as near the head as
possible, another incision must be made, commencing under the
chin, which is continued to the bottom of the neck, or from eight
to ten inches in length. By this opening, the remainder of the
neck is separated from the head ; the tongue is cut out, and the
occipital orifice enlarged, and the brain extracted thereby. The
lips are now cut as near as possible to the jaw bones, and the
operator must continue progressively ascending towards the fore-
head, and in this manner all Jhe skin will be separated from the
head, except at the nose, or point of the muzzle. All the muscles
are next removed by the scalpel, and the skull well anointed with
arsenical soap. The muscles which have been cut out are then
imitated with chopped flax or cotton, which may be attached to
the bones with cement. When this is done, the head must bo
replaced within the skin. The orifice under the neck must now
be sewed up with fine stitches, so that the hair may spread over
them to conceal the seam. The whole other parts of the mount'
ing is completed as directed for the Bear.
THE DOLPHIN, PORPOISE, ETC.
The structure of these animals, as well as of the other species
of the first family of this order, differs but little in general struc-
In skinning these, an incision is made under the chin, and con-
tinued to the extremity of the tail ; the skin is then detached
right and left with the scalpel, or a sharp knife. When the skin
has been cut back as far as possible, disengage the vertebrae at the
tail, and this will enable the operator to detach the skin from the
back ; the vertebrae are now cut close to the head, and the whole
carcase removed. /
All this tribe have a thick layer of fat under their skin. In the
operation of skinning it requires considerable dexterity to leave
this fat, or blabber, adhering to the carcase. Practice alone will
obviate this, When this has not been properly managed in the
skinning, %h® only thing to be done afterwards is to scrape it
thorough'/ with a knife. The oil which flows from it, during
its operation, must be soaked up with bran, or plaster of Paris.
There being no muscular projections in the skin of the Porpoise,
there is no use for wires in mounting it. A narrow piece of wood
the length of the body is quite sufficient to keep the skin stretched,
and stuffed either with tow or hay. Some months are necessary
to render it perfectly dry and stiff, from its greasy nature. The
grease almost always leaves some disagreeable looking spots on
the skin. To remove these, and prevent a recurrence of them,
powdered pumice-stone steeped in olive oil, is rubbed thickly on
the skin with a hand-brush. It is then gone over a second time
with emery and oil. It is rubbed in this way till the skin has a
glossy appearance, when it may be rubbed dry with a woolen
cloth ; and to complete the polish, a clean woolerf cloth may b$
applied with some force to complete the gloss, which is natural
to the skin in a living state.
Where a very glossy appearance is wished, varnishes beconu
necessary, but some difficulty has been experienced in getting
these to remain attached to the skin in all weathers, because the
humidity of rainy seasons melts gum-arabic when it is used as a
varnish, and when white varnish is applied, both it and the gum-
arabic fall off in pieces. To prevent the gum from falling off in
THE TAXIDERMIST'S GUIDE.
this way, by its contracting, the solution should have about an
eighth part of ox-gall mixed with it, and the surface of any body
to be vanished should be washed with ox-gall and water before
the varnish is applied, which will, almost to a certainty, prevent
it from cracking and falling off. It must, however, be thoroughly
dried before the varnish is applied.
We may here state, that an animal the size of a Fox or a Cat,
may be skinned, prepared, and finally set up, in the space of four
or five hours, by a person who has had a little practice in the art
of Taxidermy, and that from ten to fifteen minutes are all that
will be required to skin an animal of the size just mentioned.
SKINNING, PRESERVING, AND MOUNTING BIRDS.
Immediately after a Bird is killed, the throat and nostrils should
be stuffed with tow, cotton, or fine rags, and a small quantity
wound round the bill, to prevent the blood from staining the
Manner of holding the hands in skinning a Bird.
plumage ; but should any get on the feathers, notwithstanding
this precaution, the sooner it is removed the better, which should
be effected by a sponge which has been merely moistened in
w?iier. Too much dispatch cannot be used in removing the skin,
if the bird is shot in a warm climate ; but, in temperate regions,
the bird may be allowed to cool.
In proceeding to skin the Bird, it should be laid on its back,
and the feathers of the breast separated to the right and left,
when a broad interval will be discovered, reaching from the top
to the bottom of the breast-bone. (Sec fig. 2.)
Bird Suspended for Skinning.
22 the taxidermist's guide.
(See fig. 2 for the manner of separating the feathers and using
the scalpel.) A sharp penknife, or scalpel, must be inserted at
the point of the bone, and cut the outer skin from thence to the
vent, taking care not to penetrate so deep as the flesh, or upon
the inner skin which covers the intestines. The skin will then
easily be separated from the flesh; in larger specimens, by the
fingers, or, in smaller ones, by passing a small blunt instrument
betwixt the skin and body, such as the end of the scalpel handle ;
with this you may reach the back. The thighs should now be
pressed inwards, as in the common method of skinning a rabbit,
and the skin turned back, so far as to enable you to separate the
legs from the body, at the knee-joint. The skin is then pulled
downwards, as low as the rump, which is cut close by the inser-
tion of the tail, as shown in fig. 2, but in such a manner as not
to injure its feathers. The skin is now drawn upwards the
length of the wings, the bones of which must also be cut at the
shoulder- joints ; it is then pulled up, till all the back part of the
skull is laid bare, when the vertebrae of the neck are separated
from the head, and the whole body }§ now separated from the
skin. You next proceed to remove the brain, through the ope-
ning of the skull, for which purpose it may be enlarged by a hol-
low chisel, or other iron instrument. The eyes must then be
taken out, by breaking the slender bones which separate the
orbits from the top of the mouth, in which you may be assisted
by pressing the eyes gently inwards, so as not to break them. In
skinning the neck, great care must be taken not to enlarge the
opening of the ears, and not to injure the eyelids. The whole of
the flesh is next to be removed from the under mandible.
Several species will not admit of the skin being thus pulled
over their heads, from the smallness of their necks ; some Wood-
peckers, Ducks, &c. y fall under this description ; in which case a
longitudinal incision is made under the throat, so as to admit of
the head being turned out, which must be neatly sewed up before
stuffing. The flesh from the head, wings, legs, and rump, must
then be carefully removed with a knife, and the cavities of the
skull filled with cotton or tow. The whole inside of the skin,
head, &c. , must be well rubbed with arsenical soap, or preserving
powder, or spirit of turpentine, or the solution of corrosive subli-
mate. When it is wished to stuff the bird, it may now be imme-
diately done, as it will easily dry, if in a warm climate ; but in
low, damp countries, it will require artificial heat to do it effect-
When the skins arc merely wished preserved, the bones of the
legs and wings should be wrapped round with cotton or tow, so
as to supply the place of the flesh ; the skin is then inverted and
hung up to dry, after using the arsenical soap, as above directed ;
before doing w r hich, in larger birds, a thread or small string may
be drawn through the rump, and passed up the inside of the
neck, and drawn through the bill, to prevent the head from
stretching too much by its own weight. In larger specimens,
where cotton or tow is not easily to be met with, well dried hay
may be used.
The incision for removing, the skin is frequently made under
the wings. This may be done with marine birds to advantage.
The Penguins and Divers may be skinned, by making the incision
in the back.
The tongue should either be kept in the mouth, or sent home
separately with the birds. #
The greatest care must be taken to prevent the fat and oily
matter, so common to sea-birds, from getting on the f e^thers :
pounded chalk will be found an excellent absorbent for applying
to these birds.
In sending home specimens of birds, they should be each
wrapped in paper, and closely packed in a box ; and camphor,
preserving powder, and strong aromatics, strewed amongst them,
to prevent them from being attacked by insects ; and they ought
to be kept in a very dry part of the vessel.
It is of the utmost consequence to know the color of the eyes
and legs of birds, and these things should be carefully noted the
moment they are killed ; and it should also be mentioned whether
they are male or female ; such a memorandum ought to be at-
tached to the birds by a ticket. The season of the year in which
the bird is killed, must also be mentioned. It is also of much con-
sequence to have good skeletons, and, for this purpose, the car-
cases may be sent home in a barrel, either in spirits or a strong so-
lution of salt and water.
Mr. Salt, while in Abyssinia, packed his bird-skins between
sheets of paper, in the same manner as a hortus siccus, or herb-
24 the taxidermist's guide.
arium, and they reached England in perfect safety, and made ex-
cellent specimens when set up. In warm climates, the boxes
should be well closed, and the seams filled with warm pitch
on the outside, to prevent the intrusion of insects ; and the
inside should be supplied with camphor, musk, or tobacco-dust,
which will prevent the attacks of the smaller insects.
Till practice haf given facility to the operator, it will assist in
keeping the feathers clean, if, as he opens the skin of the breast,
he pins pieces of paper or linen cloth on the outside ; but, after a
few trials, this will be unnecessary.
Some of the marine fowls are so fat that there is much trouble
in separating it from the skin, and, in warm weather, great at-
tention will be required to prevent it from running on the feath-
ers. As much as possible should be scraped off, in the first
place, with a blunt table-knife or palate-knife, and a quantity of
powdered chalk applied, to absorb what remains, which, when
saturated with the oily matter, should be scraped off, and a fresh
supply used ; after which, a much larger proportion of the pre-
serving powder should be applied than in other birds which are
When shooting on the sea coast, if the Ornithologist is not pro-
vided with these requisites for absorbing the oil, which flows
quickly from any wounds of the skin, he will find dry sand a
If, however, after every precaution, the oily matter should get
on the feathers, the sooner it is removed the better, as, in birds
where the plumage is white, if it is allowed to become hardened
it will produce a very disagreeable appearance ; and, besides, ren-
der that part particularly liable to the attack of insects.. There
are several effectual methods of removing the greasy stains ; the
first, safest, and best, is, by taking a quantity of diluted ox-gall
—or, where it cannot be commanded, sheep Vgall, or that of any
other animal — mix it with about double the quantity of water,
and apply it with a sponge to the place which the fatty matter
has touched,, when it will immediately. remove it. The next is
by using a solution of salt of tartar, or potash, or soda. This
must be made very weak, not exceeding half a teaspoonful to a
cup of water, which will have the same effect as the gall.
Whichever of these are used, the place must be immediately
afterwards washed in pure water, so as to leave none of the gall
or alkaline substance remaining. The gall has a gummy tendency,
and will glue together the fibres of the feathers, and, besides, if
has a great attraction for moisture, and, in humid weather, will
become damp, and therefore produce mould ; the other alkaline
substances must also be used with much caution and quickness,
because they have the power of changing *the colors of the
plumage, so that they are most useful in white plumage, and
therefore should only be used on colored feathers, where gall can-
not be procured.
One general observation applies to the preservation of all
animal skins, which is, they must be made perfectly dry, so that
the sooner they are exposed to a free current of air the better ;
and unless they are speedily and thoroughly dried, the skin
will become putrid and rotten, and the hair or feathers will
consequently fall off. If a skin is properly dried, soon after it
is killed, it will keep a considerable time without any preserva-
tive whatever, only it will be the more liable to be attacked by in-
The following excellent general directions for skinning are
given by Mr. Waterton : — " While dissecting, it will be of use to
keep in mind, that in taking off the skin from the body, by means
of your fingers and little knife, you must try to shove it, in lieu
of pulling it, lest you stretch it.
"That you must press as lightly as possible on the bird, and
every now and then take a view of it, to see that the feathers, &c. ,
are all right.
"That when you come to the head, you must take care
that the body of the skin rest on your knee , for if you allow it
to dangle from your hand, its own weight will stretch it too
"That, throughout the whole operation, as fast as you de-
tach the skin from the body, you must put cotton immediately
betwixt the body and it, and this will effectually prevent
any fat, blood, or moisture, from coming in contact with the plu-
' ' As you can seldom get a bird without shooting it, a line or
two on this head will be necessary. If the bird be still alive,
press it hard, with your finger and thumb, just behind the wings,
26 - THE taxidermist's guide.
and it will soon expire. Carry it by the legs, and then, #ie body
being reversed, the blood cannot escape down the plumage and
through the shot-holes. As blood will have often issued out, be-
fore you have laid hold of the bird, find out the shot-holes, by
dividing the feathers with your fingers, and blowing on them ;
and then, with your penknife, or the leaf of a tree, carefully re-
move the clotted blood, and put a little cotton on the hole. If
after all, the plumage has not escaped the marks of blood, or
if it has imbibed slime from the ground, wash the part in water,
without soap, and keep gently agitating the feathers with your
fingers, till they are quite dry. Were you to wash them, and leave
them to dry by themselves, they would have a very mean and
" In the act of skinning a bird, you must either have it upon
a table, or upon your knee ; probably you will prefer your knee,
because, when you cross one knee over the other, and have the
bird upon the uppermost, you can raise it to your eye, or lower
it, at pleasure, by means of the foot on the ground ; and then
your knee will always move in unison with your body, by which
much stooping will be avoided, and lassitude prevented."
The first thing to be done in stuffing is to replace the skull,
after it has beemwell anointed with the arsenical soap, and washed
with the solution of corrosive sublimate inside. The thread,
with which the beak is tied, is taken hold of by the left hand,
and the head is repassed into the neck with the forefinger of the
right hand, while the thread is pulled on the opposite side ; and
we are careful that the feathers, at the margin of the opening, do
not enter with the edges of the skin. The bird is now laid on
the table with the head turned towards the left hand, and the
legs and wings adjusted to their proper situation. A fiat piece
of lead, about a pound in weight, is laid on the tail, while the
feathers of the margins of the opening are raised by the fore
finger and thumb of the left hand, to prevent their being soiled.
The inside of the neck is now coated with the arsenical soap ;
flax is stuffed into it, but not too tightly. The back and rump
are anointed, and the body should then be stuffed with tow, to
about a third of the thickness required, so that the wire may
have a sort of cushion to rest on.
4, the oval and head-wires of a bird separated; 5, the tail-bearers
separated ; 6, a leg-ioire separated; 7 the body -wire, the head-wire ,
the tail-bearer and legs connected.
Four pieces of wire are then prepared, of the thickness pro-
portionate to the size of the bird to be stuffed. The centre-piece
should be somewhat longer than the body of the bird. At about
a fourth of its length a small ring is formed, by the assisiance of
the round pincers or plyers, and the other end is pointed with a
file. This w T lre is oiled, and introduced across the skull, and
passed into the neck, through the centre of the flax or tow with
which it is stuffed, the ring being situated. tow T ard the anterior
part of the skull, for the purpose of receiving the points of each
of the wires that are passed through the feet and thighs.
The following is the mode in which this performation is ef-
fected : A hole is bored with a brass awl, the calibre of the wire
28 * the taxidermist's guide.
which it is intended to use. The wire, which is to continue in
the leg, is passed across the knee, and brought out interiorly, and,
placing it into the ring above mentioned, the same operation is per-
formed on the other side. The extremities of the wires of the
legs, and the end of the central wire beyond the ring, are all
twisted together with flat pincers, and then bent towards the tail.
The tail-bearer is next formed, which consists of the fourth piece
of wire, with which an oval is formed, by twisting the two ends
two or three turns, so that they may form a kind of fork, with the
oval nearly the length of the body of the bird ; the two points
of the fork must be sharpened with a file, and near enough to
enable them to enter the rump, through which they must pass,
and their points will be concealed by the rectrices, or large
straight tail feathers, while the oval is within the body of the
bird. If the bird is large, the tail-bearer must be firmly attached
to the interior wires, by twisting a small wire several times round
both. But unless the bird be large, it may remain quite free.
All the parts of the skin at which we can come must be
thoroughly rubbed with preserving soap, the rump in particular,
which should besides be soaked with the solution of corrosive
sublimate. The stuffing is now proceeded with, by inserting
chopped flax or tow, till it has attained its proper dimensions.
The skin is brought together and sewed up, while we take the
greatest care to separate the feathers at every stitch.
The orbits of the eyes are next finished, by inserting, with
small forceps and a short stuffing stick, a small quantity of
chopped cotton, while attention is paid to round the eyelids pro-
perly. The glass eyes are now inserted, taking care to place them
properly under the eyelids. But, before fixing the eye, a little
calcareous cement must be used, to prevent them from coming
out. If any part of the nictitating membrane is visible below, it
must be pushed up with the steel point.
The stuffing of the bird being now completed, the next thing is
to place it either on a branch, or, if a bird which does not sit on
trees, on a piece of plank ; whichever of these it is, two holes are
bored for the reception of the wires, which have been allowed to
protrude from the soles of the feet, for fixing the bird. (See fig. 8.)
These, of course, are pierced in such situations as are necessary
for the attitude or position of the legs. The wires are put through
these holes, and twisted so as to secure the bird in its position.
The attitude of the bird will, of course, depend upon the fancy
and taste of the operator, and ought to be in conformity with the
manners of the bird in a living state.
The wire frame-work, above described, is the most simple of
any in its construction, and is better adapted for small than large
birds. Indeed, it will hardly suit those of the larger species. The
following is another method of constructing the framework,
which may be used either in large or small birds : —
Like the former it is constructed of four pieces of wire. The
centre piece should be double the length of the bird ; it is bent at
a third of its length of an oval form, and twisted two turns, the
shortest end being passed into the oval, and then raised against
the longer end, so as to produce a ring at the end, outside of the
oval, large enough to admit the two wires which pass from the
feet to the inside of the bird. It is now twisted a second time>
and firmly united to the longer end, which ought to be straight*
with a sharp point, effected by means of a file. As before directed)
it is rubbed with oil, and forced through the stuffing of the neck.
It ought to be so constructed, by measurement, that the oval part
of the wire shall be in the centre of the body inside. The wires
of the feet and legs, as before directed, ought to be straight and
pointed, and passed through the soles of the feet as before. When
the point has penetrated, the other end of the wire may be bent,
so that by means of it we may be able to assist in forcing up the
remainder of the wire.. The two internal ends of the foot-wires
are twisted together, and curved within, so as to pass through the
small circle or ring of the middle branch above the oval, to each
* side of which they are now attached with a piece of small string.
The tail-bearer is constructed on the same principles, and at-
tached in the same manner, as before described, and the latter
apparatus is introduced after the neck and back are finished in
This practice of introducing the neck-wire, after the neck is
stuffed, was first adopted at the Jardin des Plantes at Paris, and
is now invariably adopted in that establishment in preference to
introducing it before the neck is stuffed. The neck of a swan or
other long-necked and large birds, are even done so. It is unques-
tionably the best plan which has hitherto been discovered, as it
preserves the cylindrical shape of the neck.
THE TAXIDERMIST'S GUIDE.
MR. BULLOCK'S METHOD OF STUFFING BIRDS.
Mr. Bullock, of the London Museum, Egyptian Hall, had an-
other method of arranging the wires which, after what we have
already said, will be easily comprehended by a reference to fig.
8, where we have given a figure of his mode. After the skin is
taken off and prepared, different sized, nealed, iron wires are pro-
cured, according to the size of the bird they are to support. The
skin is laid on its back without stretching it ; cut two pieces of
wire, the one rather longer than the bird, and the other shorter,
so as not to reach to the head of the bird ; twist them together,
sharpen the ends of the longer by means of a file, and pass one
Mr. Bullock's method of inserting the wires in setting up a bird.
end through the rump and the other through the crown of the
head, near the base of the bill. Care must be taken not to extend
the neck beyond its ordinary length — a very common fault in
most preservers. Lay a little tow along the back of the skin for
the wire to rest on, then take two other pieces of strong wire and
file them to a point at one end ; these are passed through the
soles of the feet and up the centre of the leg-bone, or tarsus.
When within the body, they are to be fastened to the first wires
by twisting them together, which, when accomplished, may be
supposed to represent the back bone. The wire should be left
two or three inches out of the soles of the feet, to fasten them in
a standing position, as before directed. Two smaller wires are
then passed through the wings, as in the legs, and afterwards
fastened to the back-wires a little higher up than the leg-wires,
taking care that no part of the skin is to be extended beyond its
A NEW AND EASIER METHOD OF BIRD SKINNING AND
A fair specimen being obtained, take common cotton wadding,
and with an ordinary paint-brush stick plug the throat, nostrils,
and, in large birds, the ears, with it, so that when the skin is
turned no juices may flow and spoil the feathers ; you must then
provide yourself with the following articles : — A knife of this
kind, which is very common ; a pair of cutting plyers, a pair of
strong scissors, of a moderate size ; a button-hook, a marrow-
spoon, and a hand-vice. "With these, a needle and thread, and a
sharpener of some kind, to give your knife an occasional touch,
you are prepared, so far as implements go. Then provide your-
self with annealed iron wire of various sizes ; some you may buy
ready for use, some not ; but you can anneal it yourself by mak-
ing it red hot in the fire, and letting it cool in the air. Common
hemp is the next article, cotton wadding, pounded whitening, and
pounded alum, or chloride of lime; as to the poisons which are
used, they will be spoken of by and by. You should also have a
common bradawl or two, and some pieces of quarter-inch pine
whereon to stand the specimens when preserved, if to be placed
as walking on a plane ; if not, some small pieces of twigs or small
branches of trees should be kept ready for use, of various sizes
32 the taxidermist's guide.
according to the size of the bird; something of the form of Fig. 9.
Cedar, or common laurel cut in December, will be found to
answer best, but this must be regulated by fancy and the require-
BRANCH FOR MOUNTING A BIRD.
ments of the case ; oak boughs are sometimes of a good shape.
The best time for preserving specimens is in Spring, because
then the cock birds are in the best feather, and the weather is not
too warm. In mild weather three days is a good time to keep a
bird, as then the skin will part from the flesh easily. If a speci-
men has bled much over the feathers, so as to damage them,
wash them carefully but thoroughly with warm water and a
sponge, and immediately cover them with pounded whitening,
which will adhere to them. Dry it as it hangs upon them slowly
before the tire, and then triturating the hardened lumps gently
between the fingers, the feathers will come out almost as clean as
ever. To test wiiether the specimen is too decomposed to skin,
try the feathers about the auriculars, and just above the tail, and
if they do not move you may safely proceed.
Lay the bird on his back, and, parting the feathers from the
insertion of the neck to the tail, you will find inmost birds a
spare space. Cut the skin the whole length of this, and, passing
the finger under it on either side, by laying hold of one leg and
bending it forward, you will be able to bring the bare knee
through the opening you have made ; with your scissors cut
it through at the joint ; pull the shank still adhering to the
leg till the skin is turned back as far as it will go ; denude the
bone of flesh and sinew, wrap a piece of hemp round it, steeped
in a strong solution of the pounded alum, and then pull the leg by
the claw, by which means the skin will be brought again to its
After having served both legs alike, skin carefully round the
back, cutting off and leaving in the tail with that into which the
feathers grow, that is, the " Pope's nose." Serve the wing bones
the same as the leg, cutting them off close to the body, and turn
the skin inside out down to the head. The back of the skull will
then appear,* and you will now find it of advantage, as soon as you
have got the legs and tail free, to tie a piece of string round the
body, and hang it up as a butcher skins a sheep. Make in the
back of the skull a cut of the annexed form, with your knife,
which you can turn back like a trap-door, and with the marrow-
spoon entirely clear out the brains ; A representing the neck, and
u the skin turned back. Having done this, wash the interior of
the skull thoroughly with the alum, and fill it with cotton wad-
ding. The next operation reqires care and practice— namely, to
get out the eyes. This is done by cutting cautiously until the
lids appear, being careful not to cut the eye itself, and you can
then, with a forceps, which you will likewise find useful, pull each
from its socket ; wipe the orifice carefully, wash it with the alum
solution, and fill it with cotton wadding. Cut off the neck close
to the skull, wash the stump, and the whole of the interior of the
skin with the alum, and the skinning is done. Now comes the
stuffing. The ordinary mode used by bird-preservers is a simple
one, and answers very well ; there is a French method, however,
which has its advantages, and will be adverted to hereafter. Take
a piece of the wire suitable to the size of the bird — that is, as
large as the legs will carry — and bencl it into the following form, a
THE TAXIDERMIST'S QUIDE.
representing the neck, 5, the body, and c, the junction of the tail,
allowing sufficient length of neck for the wire to pass some distance
beyond the head, and being sharpened at each end, which may
be done by obliquely cutting it with the plyers. Wind upon this
wire hemp to the size of the bird's body, which you should have
lying by 3'ou to judge from, and it will present something of this
appearance. You can shape it with the hand, but be careful not
to make it the least too large ; and, after you have finished it to
your satisfaction, you may singe it, as the poulterer would singe
a fowl, which will make all neat ; but be particular to wind the
Wire Bent for Inserting.
hemp very tight. Then take the skin, lay it on the table on its
back, and pass the wire at the head into the marrow where the
The Hemp Wound on the Wire.
neck is cut off, through above the roof of the mouth, and out at
one nostril, and draw it up close to the skull ; turn the skin back,
and draw it down over the hemp body, and pass the wire spike,
protruding at the lower end, through the flesh upon which the
tail grows, about the centre, and rather below than above. The
skin may now be adjusted to the hemp body, and sewn up, be-
ginning from the top of the^breast, and being particularly careful
always to take the stitch from inside, otherwise you will draw in
the feathers at every pull. At first sew it very loose, and then,
with the button-hook, draw it together by degrees.
With the plyers cut two lengths of wire, long enough to pass
up the legs and into the neck, and leave something over to fasten
the bird by to the board or spray upon wiiich it is to be placed.
The next operation requires some address and great practice,
namely, the passing the wire up the legs. This is done by forcing
it into the centre of the foot, and up the back of the legs, into the
hemp body, through it obliquely, and into the neck, until it is
pretty firm. In doing this, you must remember the ordinary
position of a bird when alive, and, therefore, instead of passing
the wire the whole way within the skin of the leg, when you get
to the part where you have cut off the bone, that is, the knee-
joint, pass it through the skin to the outside, and in again,
through the skin, from the outside, where the knee would come
naturally in the attitude of standing or perching — it makes little
difference which. This is essential, because, if the wire be
passed the whole way inside the skin, it produces a wrong
placing of the legs. Fig. 13 will illustrate this, a repre-
senting the line in which the wire should run. The bird is
now stuffed, and you may at once place it upon a spray or board,
as the case may be. In placing a bird upon a spray, the first
joint should be bent almost on a level with the foot ; and, in
placing a bird on a board, one leg should be placed somewhat be-
hind the other. If the wings are intended to be closed, as is usu-
^6 THE TAXIDERMIST'S GUIDE.
ally the case, bring them into their place, which may be done by
putting the fingers under them, and pressing them together over
the back; you may then pass a needle, or large pin, of which you
should have a good supply by you, through the thick part of the
upper wing into the body, and so by the lower wing, and if you
allow these to protrude, you may fasten to one of them a piece of
thread, and wind it carefully and lightly round the body, which
will keep the feathers in their places, and this thread should be
kept on for a fortnight or three weeks, until the bird is dry. The
tail should be kept in its place, also, for the same time, by a piece
of thin wire bent over it, thus :
The only thing now to do is to put in the eyes. The color, of
course, depends on the bird, and these you may buy at any fish-
ing-tackle store. If you do not use eyes too large, you will find
little difficulty ; the juice of the lids will act as a sufficient cement.
As to the mounting, I shall say nothing about that now, but shall
only advert shortly to a French method of preserving, which is
more difficult, but has the advantage of superior firmness. It is
this : Measuring from the insertion of the neck to the tail, make
a wire frame of this form, the measure taken being from A to b.
| Wire Used in French Method.
Upon this wind hemp for the neck only, and place in the skin in
the same way as before directed, only that, instead of one wire
being passed through that in which the >tail grows, it is a fork that
is passed through it. Having formed this frame, fit on to it two
legs, thus : and after the frame itself is in the skin, pass these from
the inside down each leg, instead of from the outside, and fasten
them on to the frame with the plyers, by twisting the ends, b b,
round the frame, c, in the first figure. This will make all firm, and
you can then fill the body with cut hemp, and sew up. One word
MOUNTING IN GENERAL. 37
as to the other preparations used by bird preservers. These are
either corrosive sublimate or regulus of arsenic, which is yellow
and of a consistence like butter. As I have said before, in cold
weather, when there are no flies about, alum will do perfectly
Ihe Wire Legs,
well ; in wami weather either of the two others may be used. I
should prefer the former— corrosive sublimate — as the other is
"messy," and the chief object is to dry up anything which can
be attacked by flesh-seeking insects. When you have finished
your bird, you can lay the feathers with a large needle — it is as
well to have one fixed in a handle and kept for this purpose —
and, tying the two mandibles of the bill together with a piece of
thread until the whole specimen has hardened and dried, the
work is done.
THE ART OF MOUNTING BIRDS, DRIED SKINS, FEATHERS,
MOUNTING IN GENERAL. jt
We will suppose that a proficiency, from practice, has been at-
tained in the art of bird-preserving, according to the instructions
given. The proficiency in preserving may apply only to the
preservation and the form, great and necessaiy things, no doubt,
38 THE TAXIDERMIST'S GUIDE.
as preliminaries ; but, like matter without manner, of little avail
alone. For attitude, I would say, as has been said to many a
young artist, go to Nature, and there you will find an original in
perfection. Would you make a willow-wren look like a willow-
wren, watch him as he there hangs upon the weeping birch, or
stands on a bough peering in quest of food ? Each bird has its
own manner, and if you cannot hit the manner, or make your
stuffed skin so far amenable as to assume the attitude, it is either
ill-stuffed, or you want the requisite knowledge of that which
you should copy.
BIRD PINNED UP.
Having fixed on the attitude, it now only remains to put the
feathers into their natural order as smoothly and regularly as
possible ; and to keep them in this state Fig. 17.
tbey should be bound around with
small fillets of muslin fastened with
pins, as represented in 1\g. 17. The
bird should then be thoroughly dried,
by placing it in an airy situation, if in
Summer ; or if in Winter, near the fire,
but not so close as to affect the natural
oil contained in the feathers. The
want of proper attention in diying
ruins many a fine specimen ; if long kept damp putridity ensues
despite all preservatives, when the skin will become rotten, and
the feathers will soon fall off; besides, the mold and •long-con-
tinued damp change the chemical properties of the preservatives
After the bird has been thoroughly dried, the fillets are re-
moved ; the wire which protruded from the head is cut off as
close to the skull as possible, with the wire-cutting pincers else-
where shown. It must then be attached to a circular, or other
shaped piece of wood, with the generic and specific name and
sex, as well as its country and locality attached to it, on a small
ticket, when it may be placed in a museum.
Young hands commonly suppose that a bird should stand bolt
upright, with the legs almost perpendicular, or at right angles to
the perch. This is a great mistake, and never to be found in
MOUNTING IN GENERAL.
Nature. Do we stand rigid, like a foot-soldier on drill ? Does
not a bird, as well as ourselves, accommodate itself to the thing
on which it rests ? Assuredly it does ; for birds do not, as a
young bird-stufier endeavors to do, find always a perch to rest
upon in the plane of the horizon. It therefore follows that, as
he keeps himself upright, his legs must accommodate themselves
to his perch. So in the ground-birds there is a gentle slope back-
wards from the hind toe, the balance being preserved in both
Position of the Legs on the Perch.
cases by throwing the body forward in proportion. It is not un-
common to see birds preserved with wings and tail spread. Now,
ordinarily speaking, this is very objectionable, because very un-
natural. A bird preserved is supposed to represent a bird in a
state of repose, that is, not in flight ; the only modification allow-
able being with regard to those birds whose manner it may be to
have the wings more or less open on occasions ; thus the falcon
tribe, supposing they are represented as devouring a quany, or
two birds toying with each other. It may be that a bird essen-
tially atrial, like the wif t, or perhaps some of the terns or the
frigate bird, may be represented as actually on the wing. In this
case, of course, the wings must be spread ; and this is best done
by passing a wire, not too thick, from the base of the quill-
feathers on the under side, alongside the bone into the body,
where it should be carefully and coaxingly inserted towards the
Fig. 19. Fig. 20. Fig. 21. Fig. 22.
Proper positions of Birds.
40 TI1& TAXIDERMIST'S GUIDE.
tail until you feel that you have a pretty good hold. You may
then pass it carefully under the longest quill-feather, and
through the back of the case, and fasten it by bringing it back
again through and clinching it, concealing it so by the oblique
position of the bird that it is not detectable. It is obvious
that by passing the wire alongside the bone, you may
bend the wings to any angle you please. With regard to
the case there are two methods : one a bell-glass, which, glass
being now so reasonable, is certainly a very pretty and reason-
able way of mounting, but inapplicable to birds which are to be
placed on a wall, or to be represented flying ; although this may
. be managed by attaching one wire from the point of the wing to
a twig sufficiently firm, which it will scarcely appear to touch, if
managed adroitly. It is likewise indispensable that a bird for a
shade should be stuffed so well as to look nicely in all positions.
One thing must always be remembered, do not have your case a
shade too large, just clear the object so as not to stint it for room ;
and in flat cases this applies chiefly to depth, for it should have
sufficient light, or it will not look well. Wooden cases should be
made as slight (in thickness) as is consistent with firmness ; well-
seasoned white deal is best ; and the case should be formed of
back, top and bottom, open at the front and sides, and at each
corner of the front two slight deal supports, rabbited on their
inner edges, and presenting on the whole this appearance.
Having the case prepared, it should be papered with ordinary
demy paper on the top and back within, and, when the paste is
dry, washed over carefully with size and whitening, tinted with a
little stone-blue ; some add some touches of white subsequently
to represent clouds, the ground representing the air ; some also
paste a landscape on the back, but this must be good, or }'ou had
better have plain color. The bird to be placed in this case is
either perching, standing, or flying. For the latter, directions
have been given. As to the two former, the perch must be firmly
fixed in the small piece of flat wood upon which it previously
stood, and put in upon it, the wood being fastened to the bottom
of the case, either by screwing from below, from above, or glu-
ing with stout glue, or by passing wire through two holes in the
bottom of the case and the wood, and clinching above. In this
case, or in screwing from below, let the wire or the screw into
MOUNTING IN GENERAL. 41
the wood, and putty over, and so if the bird is represented stand-
ing. The bird being fixed, the next thing is the decorating or
" weeding," as it is technically called, and here we enter upon a
subject so entirely of taste and fancy, that no fixed rules, as to the
disposition, can in all cases be given. One rule applies equally
to this as to landscape painting, viz., that there should always be
a compensation of objects. That is, if you have a tuft of grass
on one side which rises towards the top of the case, there should
be something in the lower opposite corner to strike the eye, but
not to rise above midway up at farthest, and the ground, or floor,
should not be over-furnished with moss, &c. After the bird is
fixed, the whole bottom should be carefully glued over with thin
glue, taking care, where the bird's feet are on the bottom, not to
touch the toes with the glue. Some fine-sifted sand or gravel
should then be sifted over it, and it will adhere wherever the glue
has touched; for this purpose a small tin shovel is best, some-
thing in this form, and about two inches wide by four long, with
a handle in proportion, which can be made to order at any tin-
man's for a trifle.
Everything used in " weeding" should be baked in a slow oven,
otherwise spider's eggs and minute creatures, which are pretty
sure to be contained in it, will make their appearance after the
case is closed in the disagreeable form of destroying your speci-
men. Moss, &c, by being slowly dried, will also keep its color
better. Yellow moss, found on the roofs of old barns, and dark
gray of the same species, are very generally useful; and where yel-
low moss cannot be had, the white or gray may be colored with
chrome, and looks as well. "Water plants fade, being more or less
succulent, and hence a little common water-color with gum will
be used with advantage and look less artificial than oil paint,
which is often used. Fern looks very pretty as an adjunct for
heath-birds, but it should be dried gradually and carefully,, when
quite full grown, and a small touch of light green, permanent
white forming a portion of it, will give it a freshness and more
natural appearance. Grass in seed (not in flower) of various kinds
is also a very pretty addition ; but bird preservers have a habit of
vising dyed grass, and yellow and red Xevantliymum, or Everlast-
ing, which is certainly to be avoided, and indeed anything which
is unnatural. If it is wished to introduce a lump of earth, or an
42 the taxidermist's guide.
apparent bank, a piece of thick brown paper, bent to the requisite
shape, and glued over and covered with sifted sand or gravel, has
a very good effect ; but insects and butterflies, or artificial flowers,
unless they are extremely natural, should certainly be avoided.
Regard should also be had to the season at which the bird
is usually seen. For instance, Summer birds are, of course,
surrounded by green and living objects, but Autumn or Winter
visitants by decaying or dead herbage. It has often been made
an experiment to represent snow, but it is difficult to obtain any-
thing white enough, and at the same time of a crystalline char-
acter, which, of course, it should be. Potato farina nicely dr^cl,
mixed with Epsom salts pounded very fine, does not make a bad
substitute ; but the real difficulty lies behind, namely, in fixing
it, and, more than all, the least damp takes very much from its
appearance, if it does not destroy the effect, and hence we must
have recourse to mineral aid, and any very white mineral powder
mingled with pounded glass is perhaps best. It is unneces-
sary to say that the herbage upon which' it is meant to rest should
be touched all over with paste, not glue, and the white mixture
shaken over and left to dry. What will heighten the effect very
much, if prettily executed, is a black landscape with a dark
leaden sky and nearly black earth mingled with moss. To repre-
sent water, a small piece of looking-glass, surrounded with moss,
etc., answers very well. The bills and legs of birds should be
always varnished, and where the natural color fades after death
it should be restored by a thin coat of oil-color of the required
shade. The bird being fixed and the case garnished, nothing
remains but to put in the glass ; this is in three pieces, one for
the front and a piece at each end. This can be pasted in with
very strong paper round the edge, advancing sufficiently over the
glass to hold it. In doing this it is not necessary to be -very par-
ticular to avoid pasting the glass, as after it is dried it can be
wiped clean with a damp cloth. The last operation is a very sim-
ple one, and dune in a few minutes. You must procure some
black spirit-varnish, which you can make yourself by dissolving
the best black sealing-wax in spirits of wine, and should be kept
corked ; when this is good it acts as paint and varnish at the same
time, and dries as fast as it is put on. One or two brass rings
screwed on at the top of the back of the case will finish the bird,
MOUNTING IN GENERAL. • 43
and if the case be nicely and closely made, there is no limit of
time to which the preservation of the specimen may not extend.
METHOD OF MOUNTING DRIED SKINS.
We must now say something respecting the setting up of skins
which have been preserved by travelers, and sent home from dis-
The general method is exactly the same as in stuffing recent
specimens. There are, however, some preliminary steps, which
it is necessary to know.
If the specimen sent home has been partially stuffed, our first
business is to undo the stitches, if it has been sewed — which was
an unnecessary process. We then remove the whole cotton or
tow from the inside, by the assistance of forceps, and from the
neck with a small piece of wire, twisted or hooked at the end.
Having finished this, small balls of wet cotton are placed in the
orbits of the eyes, and the legs and feet are wrapped round with
wet cotton cr linen rags. A damp cloth is then thrown over the
bird, and it is allowed to remain in this state till next day. The
neck and body are then filled with wet linen or cotton, and it will
be ready for commencing setting up in four or five hours.
The eyes are now put in, as directed in the recent subjects, and
then stuffed in exactly the same manner. Some difficulty will,
however, be experienced with respect to the leg-wires, and it will
require more time and care, from the dryness of the legs, to get
the wire to penetrate. Having proceeded so far as to get the bird
generally formed, the wings are next adjusted ; this also is fre-
quently difficult, owing to the stiffness of the tendons, and want
of proper attention in skinning and drying them at first. Indeed,
with some of the South American birds, a proper adjustment of
the wings is found impracticable, owing to the attempts of the
native Indians of Guyana, who seldom dispose them properly.
When these skins — frequently exceedingly valuable from their
rarity— are undone, to be remounted, it is oftentimes found utterly
impossible to get the wings to take a natural set, in which case
there is no other remedy but cutting them off close to the body,
and fixing them anew. The scapulars are separated, they are
softened with damp cloths, and then wrapped up with bands of
sheet lead, to give them a proper set. When we have got them in
44 the taxidermist's guide.
their natural shape, they must be fixed to the sides by cement and
cotton, and a long pin through each, with the head concealed
amongst the feathers. The scapulars, which we haye cut off,
must then be cemented on, and they will effectually cover the
joining of the wings. The bird being now arranged, and all the
feathers adjusted, it is wrapped round with small bands of fine
linen or muslin, ajad set aside till thoroughly dry.
Should any feathers be disengaged during the mounting, they
must be kept, and, when the bird is dry, we can replace them in
their proper situations with a pair of forceps, after they have been
touched on their shafts with the cement ; the feathers around the
place in which we intend to insert them, must be held up with the
If any of the feathers are deranged in mounting, and have got a
wrong set, the only way to remedy the defect is to pull them out
with forceps, and re-insert them with cement.
OF MOUNTING BIRDS, FEATHER BY FEATHER.
Rare birds are frequently received from foreign countries, the
skins of which are in such a state of decay, that it is impossible to
mount them by the ordinary processes above described. The
only way in which they can be preserved, is to mount them feather
by feather, which, however, is a very tedious method. It is as fol-
Procure a piece of soft pliable wire, such as is used by bell-hang-
ers ; or take some of the ordinary wire used, and make it red-hot
in the fire, and allow it to cool gradually, v when it will become
quite pliable. Take five pieces of this, of different lengths, and
form them into the skeleton of a body ; namely, two for the back,
one on each side, and one to represent the breast bone. Imitate
the shape of the bird's body, as nearly as possible. The wires
must be roughened with a file, at the place where all the wires
meet, at the neck and rump ; and first wrap the place next the
neck round with strong thread or fine brass wire. Two pieces
intended for the back must bend gently downwards, and be grad-
ually separated from each other towards the centre, and brought
together again at the place intended for the rump, whither they
must intersect each other, and be twisted two or three times, to
keep them in their place ; they are then spread out as supports for
MOUNTING IN GENERAL. 45
the tail ; the side pieces are next formed, so as to represent the
natural bulge of a bird's body, and attached to the rump ; the
piece representing the breast is then formed, joined at the rump,
and afterwards continued as long as the olher tail-pieces, to sup-
port the centre of the tail ; while at the front extremity a piece is
left, for the purpose of forming a neck to •which to attach the
head. Two leg-wires are attached to the siderwires, being rolled
round them for several turns, making a framework the shape of
After this body has been properly formed, it must be wrapped
round with tow-sliver, and the neck thickened to its required
dimensions. When this is accomplished, the head, legs, wings
and tail are softened in the usual manner ; the eyes are then fixed
in with some cotton introduced into the orbits, with a little of the
cement. The wings and tail are now placed on a table, with a
flat leaden weight above each, to restore them to their natural
shape. The leg-wires are then passed through the legs, com-
mencing at the top, and bringing them out at the soles of the feet,
and left with a piece extending beyond the claws.
The tail is now fixed on, by first attaching to it a quantity of
cotton with the cement, and, when dry, it is fixed to the part in-
tended as the rump.
The feet of the bird must be fixed into a piece of wood, as a
perch, the ends of which must be left some inches beyond the
body. The end next the tail is fixed into a table-vice, with the
belly upwards, and the head pointing towards the operator. The
feathers are now put on, commencing, under the tail, or crissum,
w ith what are termed the under-tail coverts ; a coating of cement
must be previously laid on, to attach the feathers with. It is
proceeded with upwards to the breast, and finally the length of
the neck, taking care to put the proper feathers on their respect-
ive sides, as the side-feathers "nave all an inclination to one side.
The bird is now turned with the back up, still keeping the head
towards the stuffer ; and the wings are fixed on with cement, and
pins forced through the beards of the feathers to conceal the
heads. When this is done, put on the feathers of the rump, and
proceed upwards, as has been done with the belly. After reach-
ing the top of the neck, the head is then fixed on with some cot-
ton immersed in the cement, and allowed to dry before attempt-
ing to put on the feathers
46 the taxidermist's guide.
In this mode of mounting a bird there are several things which
must be attentively adhered to ; these are — first, not to put the
feathers too thick, for there is a danger of running short ;
secondly, all the shafts of the feathers must have a small bit cut
off the tip, so as to admit the cement and to give them a firmer
hold ; and thirdly, that the feathers should all occupy their re-
spective parts ; and fourthly, that they should be arranged as
they are in nature on these parts, as the disposition of every part
of the body is peculiar to itself.
At first, this mode of setting up birds will be found a difficult
task, but, by a little practice and experience, it will become fa-
miliar and comparatively easy, although it will always be found
a tedious process. We have seen some specimens set up in this
waj r , which we could hardly detect from those mounted in the
Besides what we have already said concerning the stuffing and
preparing of birds, there are many details connected with par-
ticular species wh'ch demand our attention, and which can only
be described as regarding that species. It will, however, be im-
possi la for us to enter into all these minutely, but only give a
few examples as general guides. We shall take these in systema-
preservation of colors.
In the preservation of the feathers of Birds, little else is re-
quired to prevent the dissipation of their colors than to keep them
as much as possible from air and light. These two agents, which
were indispensable to their beauty and perfection in a living
state, now exercise their influence as destroyers, and that in-
fluence will sooner or later work its ends according to the
quality, texture, or color of the object with which it is contend-
ing. The feathers are now deprived of two agents, which in a
living state contributed to their vigor and their beauty, namely,
the internal circulating juices which they received from the body
of the animal, and the external application of oil by the bill of
the bird, supplied from a gland which is placed over the rump of
The colors of the rapacious tribes are not so evanescent as
those of many others, as they, for the most part, are composed of
MOUNTING IN GENERAL. 47
intense browns and blacks, which, arc not so easily absorbed by
light cr air, so that they continue for a very long period without
any sensible difference. There are, however, certain other points
which are liable to almost immediate change of color after the
death of the animals, and these are the cere and skin of the legs
and feet, and the naked skin on the heads and necks of Vultures
and their congeners. "We shall treat of these individually.
Now, as all these colors which we have described are liable to
change, immediately after death, it is evident that considerable
nicety will be required "to give the preserved specimen the ap-
pearance of nature. These must, therefore, be supplied artificially
with the varnish colors, which we have particularly described in
their proper place, as also the combinations for the formation of
compound colors. The reddish-brown color mentioned, of which
the fold is composed, must be touched by a mixture of the scarlet
varnish, with a little powdered burnt umber, and the blue streaks
with which it is traversed, colored above with cobalt blue. All
the varnish colors have a tendency to shine, which, it will be
evident, is not the character of any part of the skin, or earuncle
of the bird described. As soon, therefore, as it is thoroughly
dry, which will be in about an hour, the whole surface must be
gently rubbed with very fine sand paper, which will completely
remove the gloss and give the appearance of nature.
Some nicety will be required in painting betwixt the hairs,
but it can be easily managed with a little caution. Sometimes
these hairs are liable to become brown, in which case they can
be touched with the black varnish.
As these birds are inhabitants of warm climates, some care is
requisite, after killing them, to prevent decay ; the tendons of the
legs should be extracted to prevent their being attacked by
moths, and their place supplied by some cotton and preserva-
tives. The tendons are extracted by means of a longitudinal
incision made behind the tarsus. The edges of this incision can
easily be brought together when the bird is under the process of
48 the taxidermist's GETDE.
COLLECTING AND PRESERVING BIRDS' EGGS AND NESTS.
Few objects of Natural History are more interesting than the
nests of birds. To the reflecting naturalist, they open up a wide
field for inquiry. Speaking of the examination of birds, in the ex-
ercise of their mechanical arts of constructing nests, Professor
Rennie says : " This work is the business of their lives — the duty
which calls forth that wonderful ingenuity which no experience
can teach, and which no human skill can rival. The infinite vari-
ety of modes in which the nests of birds are constructed, and the
exquisite adaptation of the nest to the peculiar habits of the indi-
vidual, offer a subject of almost exhaustless interest." The num-
ber and variety of the eggs of birds are curious subjects of con-
templation, and should be carefully noted whenever opportunity
offers. They are as essential to the personal history of the species,
as any other part of our inquiries.
The eggs are emptied of their contents by making a very small
hole at each end with a point. By blowing at one of the ends, the
contents will escape by the other, unless the young has been
already formed ; in which case a larger hole must be made in the
side of the egg^ and the contents removed with a small hook.
The hole should then be stopped up by pasting a little gold-
beater s leaf over it. The eggs are then either returned to their
nest, in which they ought to be cemented, or should be fixed
down by one side to cards, with the name and locality attached.
The best manner of conveying loose eggs to a distance, is to
put some cotton at the bottom of the nest, and then another layer
above them. The nests should all be put in separate boxes, if pos-
sible, and so packed that the pressure of the lid may not injure the
eggs, or a box with several compartments should be used, taking
care that each is carefully marked. It would also be of conse-
quence to have the nests attached to the branches, with tlfosc
species which build on trees, which will enable us to trace the in-
genious means employed by those, little animals in constructing
their habitations. In sending home specimens from a foreign
country, the seams of the box should be covered by pitched cloth,
to protect them'f.oni the influence of moisture.
SKINNING AND PRESERVING REPTILES. 49
To preserve the shells of eggs, first take care to clear them of
their contents ; get a small, fine-pointed common syringe, such as
is sold in toy-shops for a penny or twopence, and inject the speci-
men with water until it comes out quite clean. Yvlien an
egg has been partly hatched or addled, the removal of the contents
generally includes that of the internal membrane or pellicle ; this
makes the shell weaker. When the specimens arc quite clean in-
ternally, and have become dry (which will be in a day or two),
take the syringe and inject them with a strong solution of isin-
glass (with a little sugar-candy added to prevent its cracking) ;
blow this out again whilst warm. Let the shell get dry, and then
wash the outside with a soft wet cloth to remove saline particles,
dirt from the nest, &c. This method varnishes the inside, and the
first, specimen on which it has been tried was the before-mentioned
hedge-accentor's cgg f which is to this day as bright hi color as a
Also in a pair of nightjar's eggs, of which species the delicate
grey tint is particularly evanescent, one was injected in the man-
ner described, and the other was not ; in the first the grey is still
perfectly defined, in the other it has entirely disappeared. Eggs
which have lost their internal pellicle become strengthened by this
process, and those which have not lost their color greatly improved.
SKINNING, PRESERVING, AND SETTING UP REPTILES, FISHES, AND
MOLLUSCOUS ANIMALS, ETC.
TORTOISES AND TURTLES.
Skinning.— The first operation is to separate the *kack and
breast shells with a strong short knife, or chisel. If the force of
the hand is inadequate, a mallet may be used, taking care not to
strike so hard as to crack the shell.
These two bony plates being covered by the skin, or by scales,
the scapula, and all the muscles of the arm and neck, in place of
being attached to the ribs and spine, are placed below, from which
cause the tortoise has been termed a retroverted animal. The
vertebral extremity of the scapula is articulated with the shield,
and the opposite extremity of the clavicle with the breast-plate in
50 THE TAXIDERMIST'S GUIDE.
such a manner that the shoulders f orm a ring for the passage o1
the windpipe and gullet.
After the turtle is opened, all the flesh which adheres to the,
breast-plate, and also to the upper shell, is removed, while atten*
tion is paid to the parts as above described. The head, fore-feet,
and tail are skinned as in quadrupeds ; but none of these must ba
removed from the upper shell, but left attaciied.
All the fleshy parts being removed, the shells are washed out
with a sponge, and carefully dried. They are then slightly rubbed
with the arsenical soap.
Stuffing. — Wires are now passed through the middle of the
legs, after the skin has been rubbed with the preservative. The
skull is returned to its place, and the whole of the head, neck, and
legs stuffed with chopped flax or tow. The parts of the skin
which have»been cut are then sewed together. The back and
breast plates are then united by four small holes, being bored at
their edges, and united by strings or small wires. The junction
of the bones may then be attached with the cement, colored so as
to correspond with the shell.
If the calipash is dirty, it may be cleaned with a slight solution
of nitric-acid and water ; afterwards clean washed, oiled, and then
rubbed hard with a woollen rag, to give it a polish.
CROCODILES AND LIZARDS IK GENERAL.
Skinning. — All this tribe are skinned in the same manner as
quadrupeds. Care is, however, required in skinning the tails of
the smaller species, as they are very liable to break. The skins
being of a dry nature, require but little of the preservative. After
they are thoroughly dried they will keep a very long time without
Stuffing. — Stuff them as directed for quadrupeds. They ad-
mit of but litle variety of attitude. The small species are exceed-
ingly apt to change color in drying ; which must be imitated with
the colored varnishes, and afterwards dimmed with sand paper.
To keep them in their natural colors, they should be preserved in
The skins of such as are glossy should be varnished after they
are perfectly dry.
SKINNING AND PRESERVING REPTILES. 51
SERPENTS IN GENERAL.
Skinning. — In skinning serpents there is some nicety required,
to cut them so as not to disfigure the scales ; the opening should
be made in the side, commencing at the termination of the scales ;
and they should on no account be divided, as upon their number
the species is mostly determined.
It is a very frequent practice to send home serpents without the
head, which renders 1them quite unfit for any scientific purpose.
This proceeds from the fear of receiving poison from the fangs.
But there is not the slightest danger of being affected, as these can
easily be cut out by means of pincers. The head should be cleaned
and the brain removed, in the same manner as recommended for
birds and quadrupeds, the skull anointed and then returned into
When the skin is removed, it may be rolled up and packed in
small space. The simplest way to preserve small species is to put
them in spirits, which must not be too strong, as it will destroy
Mr. Burchell, in his four years' journey through Africa, glued
the skins of the smaller serpents perfectly flat on paper, which pre-
served the size of the animal, and the skin retained all the beauty
Stuffing. — The skin, if not recent, must be first softened in
the manner recommended for birds. A piece of wire is taken, the
length of the animal, which must be wrapped round with tow till
it is of a proper thickness, and above the whole a spiral band of
silver should be carefully wrapped. It is then placed inside of
the skin, and sewed up. The eyes are placed in, as directed for
quadrupeds and birds. When dry, give the serpent a coat of var-
nish, and then twist it into any attitude wished. A favorite and
striking one is to have it wound round some animal, and m the act
of killing it.
FROGS AND TOADS.
Skinning.— The mouth is opened, and the first vertebrae of the
neck is cut. The whole inside of the mouth is cut out with scis-
sors. The two jaws are next raised up and the skin is pushed
back with the fingers of the right hand, while the body is drawn
52 the taxidermist's guide.
back in a contrary direction with the other hand, and the whole
bocty is then drawn out at the mouth. The legs are then returned
to their proper place.
Stuffing. — The simplest method of stuffing these animals, is
with sand. A small funnel is placed into the mouth, and pour in
well dried sand. When full, a small piece of cotton is pushed into
the throat, with some of the cement, to keep the sand from escap-
ing on moving the animal. %
The Frog is then placed on a board, and in an attitude. When
quite dry, give it a coat of varnish. When this has perfectly
dried, very small perforations are made under the belly with the
point of a needle, and the sand allowed to escape, leaving the body
in its natural form.
These animals are liable to change of color from drying, and
should, therefore, be painted with the varnish to their natural
hues. There is less difficulty with Toads in this respect, as they
are usually of a brown color, and not liable to much change.
They may be perfectly preserved in spirits.
The best method of securing the scales and colors of Fish, is, as
soon as they are caught, to apply cambric or tissue paper to them,
which will soon dry and adhere firmly ; the body may be then
taken out and the skin dried. When the skin is to be stuffed, roll
it in a moist cloth, which will not only render it pliable, but also
soften the tissue paper, so as it can be removed, when the colors
will be found to be much brighter than by any other method with
which we are yet acquainted.
LAMPREYS, EELS, AND OTHER FISH OF SIMILAR FORM.
These species maybe skinned in the same manner as Frogs and
Toads, by drawing the body through the mouth.
OF SKINNING FISH IN GENERAL.
The fish should be procured as fresh as possible, more particu-
larly if it is one of those on which the scales are loosely attached.
Lay it on one side and cut the gills with a pair of scissors ; then
introduce a little tow or a piece of sponge into the place to pre-
vent the blood from flowing during the process of skinning ; let
the fins be raised and gently extended, and two pieces of paper,
something the shape of each, be placed under them, only ex-
tending a little beyond them. Coat the paper with a weak
solution of gum-arabic, and put a piece of similar size en
the top of the tin ; by pressing these gently they will adhere
and dry in a few minntes ; these will keep the fins extended,
and preserve them daring the operation of stuffing. When these
are dry, take a piece of tissue paper or thin siik, and press it
gently on one side of the fish. The natural glutinous matter which
The Perch, showing the manner in which the paper is attached
for the purpose of extending the fins.
covers the scales will be sufficient to make it adhere firmly; it will
soon dry and form a strong protection to the scales during the
skinning. Without this precaution the skin could not be removed
from mullet, sea beaver, &c. , without the scales being much dis-
figured, and losing many of them. Indeed, in such fishes, it is
not amiss to put on an additional coating of paper with gum-water.
This will not only secure the scales, but will also assist in keeping
the proper form of the fish, by preventing distention.
When these papers are thoroughly dry, turn the fish on a soft
cloth, with the uncovered side upwards, and open it with sharp
scissors from the bottom of the tail-fin to nearly the point of the
snout, keeping as correctly on the lateral line as possible, which
can be seen in most fishes. The cheek should be afterwards cut
open, so that the flesh may be removed from it; cut also the flesh
from the opposite cheek, and supply its place by cotton. The
skin must now be detached from the flesh, which will require
54 the taxidermist's guide.
some care at first. It must be commenced at the head, and sepa-
rating it downwards with the assistance of a knife, and the fin-
bones must be cut through with scissors. The spine must now
be cut through close to the head, and also at the tail, and the body
All the animal matter having been completely removed from
the skin, the inside must be wiped dry, and the preservative ap-
plied in the same manner as directed for birds and quadrupeds.
Great care is necessary to prevent it from being too much dis-
In Sharks and large Fishes, an incision is made below the
head, and extended to the fin of the tail ; the skin is then sepa-
rated on each side with a scalpel, cutting back as far as possible,
so that the vertebrae may be cut close to the head. The tail is then
skinned. The head is pushed inwards, and the skin passed over
it above, and all the cartilage cut carefully away. Care must be
taken not to enlarge the branchial openings too much, which
would render it necessary to sew them up again, and it is not
easy to hide a seam in a fish's skin.
Diadon, Tetradon, and Balistes, and their congeners, are
opened by the belly. The ostracion is enveloped in a skin, which
consists of a single piece, the tail of which only is free and flexi-
ble. The opening in the belly must not be large ; the tail must
be opened, the flesh cut away, and stuffed with cotton.
The skins, being properly anointed, are filled with tow or cot-
ton. This must be so managed that there will be no prominences
on the outside of the skin, which, in fishes, is smooth and even
for the most part. When properly filled, they must be sewed up,
and set aside to dry in the air, but not exposed to the rays of the
sun. In a few days, the papers with which the fins were extended
are taken off, by damping them with a sponge. The glass eyes
are now introduced, after filling the orbits with cotton and a little
cement to secure them in their places. The skins may then be
coated with turpentine varnish.
Sharks. — In stuffing these large fishes, it is necessary to use a
stick for a centre support. This must also enter the head, through
the opening of the throat, If it is intended that the specimen
LOBSTEKS, CBAES, &C. 55
shall be suspended from the ceiling, wire-books must be fastened
into the wood. From these must be placed upright wires, so that
they penetrate the skin, and pass through the back. Let the
whole internal surface of the skin be well rubbed with the pre-
servative. The body is then stuffed to its full size, and afterwards
sewed up. The stuffing of the head must be completed through
the orbits of the eyes, and also by the mouth. This finished, the
glass eyes are inserted, as in other animals, and fixed by means of
Many species of fish have semi-transparent cartilages connected
with the eyes. These must be imitated with gumarabic and pow-
dered starch, as well as the cornea of the eyes.
The skins of all fish, which are similar to that of sharks, must
be well supplied with spirits of turpentine, after they are mounted,
more particularly the head and fins ; but as they are not glossy
they do not require to be varnished.
"When the fins are strong, it is necessary to keep them extended
by means of a wire introduced through them.
In the Diadons, the chief thing to be attended to, beyond what
we have stated, is, to take care that the spines, with which their
skins are beset, are not broken or depressed in any way.
Salmon, Trout, Tench, Carp, Pike, &c, are very easily preserved,
as the scales are firmly attached to the skin ; and although they
become somewhat dim from drying, their colors and brilliancy are
considerably restored by means of varnish, if applied before they
are thoroughly dried.
After a lapse of time, the varnish will rise into little scales ; to
remove these, nitric acid, diluted in water, must be applied to the
whole external surface, which has the effect of completely taking
off the varnish, cr at least of raising it from the skin, which,
when allowed to dry, can be wholly remove d by rubbing it with
a small brush It may then be varnished again ; when dry, it will
ever afterwa;c> continue quite solid.
What is above recommended will apply to almost all fishes.
LOBSTERS, CRABS, &c.
In this class are included Crabs, Lobsters, and their congeners.
These animals are all protected by a coriaceous covering, or shell,
which is easily preserved, although there is considerable difficulty
in preserving the colors of some species.
56 THE taxidermist's guide.
The flesh must be extracted from the large claws of Lobsters
and Crabs, by breaking the smallest possible piece from their
points and introducing a small crooked wire ; in the smaller
claws the flesh must be allowed to dry, and to facilitate this, ex-
tremely small perforations should be made in opposite sides of
the shell, by means of a sharp triangular awl, so as to allow the
air to pass through it.
In Lobsters, the branchiae and all the intestines must be cut
away ; the latter is effected by separating the body from the
lower parts, and then extracting the internal parts with any sharp
instrument ; it should then be dried and cemented together,
* after being well anointed with the preservative. In Crabs, the
body, with all the limbs attached, is pulled separate from the
back shell, and the whole fleshy matter carefully picked out, and
preserving powder and the solution of corrosive sublimate ap-
plied to the different internal parts. In drying Lobsters, Crabs,
&c. , they should be exposed to a free current of air, but not to
the sun's rays, as it reddens the shells of crustaceous animals.
It need hardly be mentioned, that before applying the preserva-
tives, the shells should be well washed with cold water.
The Hermit-Crab always takes possession of the shell of some
turbinated Univalve as its domicile. These are easily preserved
by pulling out the animal after it is dead. An incision is made
in the soft tail of the animal, and the contents allowed to run off ;
it is then filled with cotton and imbued with the preservative ;
some cement is then put on the tail, and the animal returned to
its shell, which completes the operation of preserving.
In sending home crustaceous animals, the larger species should
be emptied of their fleshy matter, which, however, is not neces-
sary with the smaller species ; they should be packed in middling
sized cases, and each wrapped in separate papers, with a thick
bed of cotton or flax between each. In Lobsters, and the species
which are allied to them, great care must be exercised in preserv-
ing the tentacula or feelers which emanate from their heads, as
these become very brittle after they are dried. In proceeding to
set up specimens which have been sent home, they should be
immersed in cold water for some time, to give pliability to the
tentacula and other parts, without which it will be impossible to
set them up in any way without their breaking.
Mr. Bullock recommended that Crabs and all other crustaceous
animals, should be immersed in corrosive sublimate and water
for an hour previous to their being put into attitudes.
When the joints become loose they are in general attached by
glue, but the cement is much better.
K. B. — On no account whatever use warm water in cleaning
crustaceous animals, as it is certain to change their colors.
PRESERVING SPIDERS, GxlLLY-WORMS, AND INSECTS,
The general directions which we shall give respecting insects,
hold good as to Spiders, only we must mention there is consid-
erable difficulty in preserving the bodies of Spiders, which gen-
erally, in a very short time, shrink into a shapeless mass. To
prevent this, the body should be pricked with the triangular awl
and the contents pressed out ; it should then be stuffed with very
fine carded cotton or down, which can be pushed in by a pricker,
blunted a little at the point. When properly distended, the small
aperture should be filled up with a little cement, or a solution of
gum-arabic. The legs of the larger species, such as the Bird-
catching Mygale and the Scorpions, are also liable to shrink, and
should be stuff ed in the same manner as that of the body.
In those species of Spiders which we hare thus prepared, and
whose colors are rich and likely to be affected by the action of
the atmosphere, we must endeavor to arrest its progress by im-
mediately imbuing the animal, after it is set up, with the solution
of corrosive sublimate, and in an hour after with a thin coating
of a very weak white-spirit varnish ; for this purpose, take a tea-
spoonful of the ordinary white-spirit or elastic varnish, and add
to it two teaspoonfuls of spirit of wine ; apply this wash with a
fine camel hair brush, which will quickly dry, and have a strong
tendency to preserve the color. The varnish, being thus reduced
in strength, will not leave any glass on the insect, nor will it be
at all perceptible.
Mr. Samouelle, author of ' ' The Entomologist's Useful Com-
pendium," in speaking of preserving Spiders, says : "The best
58 THE TAXIDERMIST'S GUIDE.
preserved specimens that I have seen are those where the con-
tents of the abdomen have been taken out and filled with fine
sand. I have preserved several in this way, and find it answer
Mr. Donovan makes the following observations on the preser-
vation of Spiders :
" To determine whether some species of Spiders could be pre-
served with their natural colors, I put several into spirits of wine ;
those with gibbous bodies soon after discharged a very consid-
erable quantity of viscid matter, and therewith all their beautiful
colors ; the smallest retained their form, and only appeared rather
paler in the other colors than when they were living.
"During the course of last Summer, among other Spiders, I
met with a rare species ; it was of a bright yellow color, elegantly
marked with black, red, green, and purple ; by some accident it
was unfortunately crushed to pieces in the chip-box wherein it
was confined, and was, therefore, thrown aside as useless ; a
month or more after that time I observed that such parts of the
skin as had dried against the inside of the box, retained the
original brightness of color in a considerable degree. To further
the experiment, I made a similar attempt, with some caution, on
the body of another Spider, and, though the colors were not per-
fectly preserved, they appeared distinct.
"From further observations I find, that if you kill the Spider
and immediately after extract the entrails, then inflate them by
means of a blow-pipe, you may preserve them tolerably well ;
you must cleane them on the inside no more than is sufficient to
prevent moulcliness, lest you injure the colors, which certainly,
in many kinds, depend on substance that lies beneath the skin."
Scorpions, and all the Spider tribe, maybe sent home in spirits,
which will preserve them perfectly, and when taken out and
dried, they will be found to have suffered nothing from their im-
mersion. We have seen some specimens sent up, after being sent
home in spirits, which rivalled any which have been preserved in
a recent state. The animals of this class are particularly liable
to the attacks of insects, particularly in warm countries, on which
account the mode of transporting them and keeping them in
spirits U, perhaps, superior to all others. If, however, they are
set up in a warm climate, they should be well soaked with the
solution of corrosive sublimate, made according to the recipe of
Mr. "Water tou
For the setting up of this class, see the directions for preserving
Every country of the world is replete with this extensive and
interesting class of beings, whose forms are infinitely diversified,
and whose species are the most numerous of any class in the ani-
Before any attempt is made to collect insects, certain apparatus
must be provided, not only to enable us to secure them, but also
to preserve them after they are caught.
First, then, we must be provided with a quantity of wooden
boxes, from 18 to 20 inches long, 15 to 17 inches wide, and two
inches deep. These should have well-filled lids, with hinges,
and fastened by a wire catch, or small bolt. The bottom should
have a layer of cork, about the sixth of an inch in thickness,
which shoulcrbe fixed down with very strong paste, made ac-
cording to our recipe ; and also some wire nails, to prevent it
from springing. Over the cork should be pasted white paper.
The box should be anointed inside with oil of petroleum. If
that cannot be procured, make an infusion of strong aromatic
plants, such as cinnamon, aloes, thyme, laurel, sage, rosemary,
or cloves, and wash the inside with it. A small packet of cam-
phor should be rapped in a piece of rag, and deposited in a cor-
ner ot the box.
"We must also be provided with a quantity of Insect pins, of
different sizes, corresponding with the size of the insect. The
p : ns used for setting should be longer than those which are
taken to the field.
Bottles, with mouths from an inch and a quarter to two inches
in diameter, must also be procured, and these must be tnree-
fourths full of spirits, such as weak brandy, rum, gin, or whisky.
Hunting-Box. — We must besides have what is termed a hunt-
ing box, for carrying in our pocket, when seeking after insects.
This should be made of strong pasteboard or chip, for lightness,
or, if this is no consideration, of tin. It must be of an oblong-
oval shape, rounded at the ends, for the convenience of the
pocket It should be from eight to ten inches long, four to five
60 the taxidermist's guide.
inches wide, and two-and-a-half to three inches deep. It must
have a layer of cork both in the bottom and top of the lid, in-
side, for attaching insects to, when caught during the day. The
larger insects are placed at the bottom, and the smaller ones on
The Entomological. — We next procure a net, as in fig. 26,
constructed similar to a bat-fowling net. This is either made of
fine gauze or coarse muslin ; it may either be green or white —
the latter is the best for observing small insects which may be
caught ; the green, however is better adapted for catching
Moths. The net-rods should be made of hickory, beech, hazel,
or holly; they ought to be five feet in length, quite round,
smooth, and tapering to an obtuse point, as at fig. 24 ; the ob-
lique cross-piece at the point should be of cane, and fitted into
the angular ferrule ; the rod must be divided into three or four
pieces, so that it may be taken asunder and carried in the pocket;
the upper part of each joint must have a ferrule affixed to it, for
the purpose of articulating the other pieces. Eaclr*joint should
have a notch or check to prevent the rod from twisting.
The net itself, fig. 31, must have a welting all around it, doubled
so as to form a groove for the reception of the rods. In the
centre of the upper part or point it must have a small piece Oi
chamois leather, so as to form a kind of hinge; this must be
bound round the welting, and divided in the middle, so as to pre-
vent the cross pieces from slipping over each other; it shows
about four inches of the gauze turned up, so as to form a bag;
there are strings for the purpose of passing through the staple,
to which the net is firmly drawn on each side. When the net is
used a handle is to be held in each hand.
If it is intended to take insects oh the wing, by means of this
net, for which it is admirably adapted, it may be folded together
in an instant. If the gauze is fine enough, and preserved whole,
even the smallest insect cannot escape. It may be also applied in
catching Coleopterous Insects, which are never on the wing, as
well as Caterpillars. When used for this purpose the Entomolo-
gist must hold it expanded under trees, while another must beat
the branches with a stick. Great numbers of both insects and
larva will fa}\ in the gauze, and by this means many hundreds
may be captured in a day.
Another method is to spread a large table-cloth under trees
and bushes, and then beat them with a stick. An umbrella re-
versed has frequently been used for the same purpose. Bose, the
celebrated naturalist, used this last method — he held the umbrella
in the left hand, while he beat the bushes with the other.
The Hoop or Aquatic Net, fig. 2G. — This net is used for
capturing Aquatic Insects, which are either lurking at the bottom,
swimming through the liquid element, or adhering to plants. It
may also be successfully used in sweeping amongst grass and low
herbage, for Coleopterous Insects, and others which are generally
to be found in such situations. The socket, for the handle, may
be made of such dimensions as will answer the second joint of
the Entomological net-rod, which will save carrying another
handle ; or a walking-stick may be made to fit it.
A Phial, fig. 33. — This may either be made of tin or crystal,
and used for collecting Coleopterous and other Creeping Insects.
The mouth should be nearly an inch wide, and a cork exactly fit-
ted to it, in the centre of which must be inserted a small quill, to
afford air, and inserted about an inch beyond the cork, to prevent
the insects from escaping. If the bottle is made of tin, and of t
larger size, a tin tube must be introduced into its side, and ter-
minating externally at the surface.
A Digger, fig. 28. — The instrument is either made of iron or
steel, and is about six or seven inches in length, fixed into a turned
wooden handle. It is used for collecting the pupse of Lepidopter-
ous Insects, at the roots and in the clefts "of the bark of trees ; and
also for pulling off the bark, particularly from decayed trees,
under which many curious and rare insects are frequently found.
It is most useful with an arrow-headed point.
Setting Needles, fig. 29. — Fitted into a small wooden handle,
the needle itself should be about three inches long, and about the
thickness of a small darning-needle, slightly bent from about the
middle. Fig. 30 is a straight needle, which is used for extending
the parts of insects ; at one end of the handle is the needle, and
at the other a camel-hair pencil, which is used for removing any
dirt or dust which may be on the insects. The pencil may be
occasionally drawn through the lips, brought to a fine point, and
used for disposing the antennae and palpi of insects of the minute
62 THE TAXIDERMIST'S GUIDE.
Brass Pliers, fig. 25.— These are used for picking up small
insects from the roots of grass, &c. They may also be used for lay-
ing hold of small insects, while they are yet free and not set up.
Fan Forceps. — This very useful instrument to the Entomolo-
gist, must be made of steel or iron, and about eight or ten inches
in length ; its general construction is like that of a pair of scis-
sors, and it is held and used in the same manner. Towards the
points are formed a pair of fans, which may either be square, oval,
hexagonal, or octagonal in the edges, and the centres covered with
fine gauze. The general size of the fans is from four to six inches.
These are used for capturing Bees, Wasps, and Muscae. They are
also used for catching Butterflies, Moths, and Sphinges. If an
insect is on a leaf, both leaf and insect may be inclosed within
the fans ; or if they are on a wall or the trunk of a tree, they may
be very easily secured by them.
If a Butterfly, Sphinx, or Moth, are captured by the forceps,
while yet between the fans, they should be pressed pretty smoothly
with the thumb-nail, on the thorax or bod}% taking care, how-
ever, not to crush it. It may then be taken into the hand, and a
pin passed through the thorax, and then stuck into the bottom of
Quills. — These are of great use in carrying minute insects.
They should be neatly stopped with cork and cement, at one end ;
the other end should be provided with a small moveable cork, for
a stopper. Each end should be wrapped carefully round with a
silk thread waxed, to prevent them from splitting.
Pocket Larvae-Box. — For collecting Caterpillers, this box is
very essential : it consists merely of a chip-box, with a hole
pierced in the centre of the top and bottom, and covered with
gauze, for the admission of air. It will be necessary to put into
the box some of the leaves on which the larvae feed, as they are
very voracious, and cannot long exist without food.
Pill-Boxes. — No Entomologist should be without five or six
dozen of these useful articles. They are of great value in collect-
ing the smaller species of Lepiclopterous Insects, such as the Tinea,
&c. , and only one specimen should be put in each box, as, if more
than one, they are apt to injure each other's wings, by beating
against each other,
Setting-Boards. — These must be made of deal board, from a
foot to fifteen inches long, and eight or ten inches broad, With a
piece of wood run across the ends, to prevent them from warping.
They are covered with cork, which must be perfectly smooth on
the surface, with white paper pasted over it. Several boards will
be required, by persons who are making collections, as some of
the insects take a considerable time to dry, so that they may be
lit for introducing into a cabinet.
The boards should be kept in a frame made for the purpose.
It should consist of a top, bottom, and two sides ; the back and
front should have the frames of doors attached by small hinges,
and their centers covered with fine gauze, for the free passage of
air ; the sides should have small pieces of wood projecting from
them, for the boards to rest on ; which should be at such a
distance from each other that the pins may not be displaced in
pushing the boards in or drawing them out. The frame should
be placed in a dry, airy situation.
Braces. — These are merely small pieces of card, cut in the
form exhibited, fig. 36, attached to the butterfly and other insects ;
and also at fig. 39. They are pinned down on the insects, to keep
their wings, &c, in a proper state, till they acquire a set.
SETTING AND PRESERVING INSECTS.
Of the orders Coleoptera, Orthoptera, and Hemiptera.
These are easily preserved.
They are killed by immersing in scalding water, and then laid
upon blossom or blotting paper, for the purpose of absorbing as
much of the moisture as possible; or they may be placed in a
tin box, with a little camphor in it, near the fire, which soon kills
them. This is besides of considerable effect in their preservation.
Insects of the genera Gryllus (Cricket), Locusta (Locusts), &c.,
have tender bodies, and are sure to shrivel in drying. The intes-
tines should therefore be extracted, while they are yet moist, and
skin filled with cotton, as directed with some of the spiders.
When Coleopterous insects are set with the wings displayed,
the elytra should be separated, and the pin passed through their
body near the middle of the thorax, as in fig. 35. The wings
are exhibited as in the act of flying, and are retained in this situa-
tion until they are quite dry, by the cord braces. The insects of
64 THE TAXIDERMISTS GUIDE.
this order should always have the pin passed through the right
elytra on the right side, as shown at fig. 37, that is, it should pass
underneath, between the first^ pair of feet and the intermediate
The legs, palpi, and antenna?, should be displayed in a natural
order on the setting board, and retained in the position by means
of pins and braces, as shown in plate IY, figs. 35,37. These must
be kept in that state, either longer or shorter, according to the
insect and the s.tate of the weather, as, if placed in a cabinet
before they are quite dry, they are sure to get mouldy, and will
Minute insects should be attached to cards with gum, as shown,
plate IY, figs. 34 and 39, with the legs and other organs displayed.
Entomologists generally adapt triangular cords as at fig. 38, as
less liable to hide the parts of the insects.
Order Lepidoptera. — Mr. Haworth, in mentioning the ^ten-
acity of life in the Goat Moth, states, that " the usual way of
compressing the thorax is not sufficient to kill this insect. They
will live several days after the most severe pressure has been
given there, to the great uneasiness of any humane entomologist.
The methods of suffocation by tobacco or sulpher are equally
inefficacious, unless continued for a greater number of hours, than
is proper for tbe preservation of the specimens. Another method
now in practice is better, and however fraught with cruelty it
may appear to the inexperienced collector, is the greatest piece
of comparative mercy that can, in this case, be administered.
When the larger Moths must be killed, destroy them at once by the
insertion of a strong^ red-hot needle into their thickest parts, begin-
ing at the front of the thorax. If this be properly done, instead of
lingering through several days, they are dead in a moment. It ap-
pears to me, however, that insects, being animals of cold and
slugglish juices, are not so susceptible of the sensations we call
pain, as those which enjoy^a warmer temperature of body, and
a swifter circulation of the fluids. To the philosophic mind, it is
self-evident that they have not such acute organs of feeling pain
as other animals of a similar size, -whose juices are endowed with
a quicker motion, and possess a constant, regular, and genial
Butterflies are soon killed by passing a pin through the thorax.
The pin passed through the thorax of small Moths generally proves
almost instantly fatal to them.
The best manner of preserving the minute species of Moths is
by pill-boxes, as above stated, each moth being kept in a separate
box. We have found the following the best mode of destroying
A piece of flat hard-wood is taken, and a circular groove cut in
it, sufficiently deep to admit the mouth of a tumbler being placed
within it. In the centre of the wood, pierce a hole about a third
of an inch in diameter in its centre : place the pill box under this
tumbler, with the lid off, and the insect will soon creep out : but
whether it does so or not, a match well primed with sulphur is
lighted and placed into the hole under the centre of the tumbler,
which will suffocate the insect in a few seconds. I have also
found this an effectual method of killing the larger species of But-
terflies, and Moths. In piercing them, the pin should be quite
perpendicular, that no part of their minute frame should be hidden
by its oblique position.
The larger insects of this order are set by braces chiefly. A sin-
gle one should in the first place be introduced under the wing,
near the thorax,, as shown in fig. 36, and a longer brace extending
over the wings. These should not bear upon the wings, but be
ready to rest gently on them, w r hen required. The wings are now
elevated to their proper position by the setting needle, and other
braces are used as necessity dictates. The feet and antenna? are
extended and kept in their places by means of pins; in which
operation small braces are also occasionally used.
The French Entomologists set Butterflies, Moths, and Sphinges,
on a piece of soft-wood, in which they have excavated a groove
for the reception of the body, as deep as the insertion of the wings.
They are otherwise preserved as above directed.
In the larger Butterflies, Moths, and Sphinges, the abdomen
should be perforated, its contents extracted, and then stuffed with
fine cotton, after having been washed internally with the solution
of corrosive sublimate. Indeed, the cotton should also be rubbed
with arsenical soap before being introduced, as these insects are
particularly liable to the attack of smaller insects, such as the
66 the taxtpe^iist's guide.
Several of the Moth tribe are extremely liable to change their
color some time after they have been placed in a cabinet. This
change is frequently occasioned by an oily matter which is common
to many of them. This first makes its appearance in small spots
on the body, but soon spreads itself over the abdomen, thorax,
and wings ; and ends in a total obliteration of all the beautiful
markings. A method which has been sometimes successfully
adopted is to sprinkle all the wings with powdered chalk, and
holding a heated iron over it ; the chalk absorbs the grease, and
may then be blown off by means of a pair of small bellows.
Another way of applying the chalk, and perhaps the better of the
two, is to throw some powdered chalk on the face of a heated
iron, and then put it into a piece of linen cloth, and apply it to
the body of the insect ; the heat of the iron will soften the grease,
and the chalk will absorb it.
Another method is to hold a heated iron over the insects for a
few minutes, and then to wash the spotted or greasy places with
ox gall and water, applied with a camel-hair pencil, and afterwards
wash it with pure water, and dry it by an application of blotting
paper, and when perfectly dry imbue it with the solution of cor-
rosive sublimate. But grease seldom appears where the contents
of the abdomen have been removed.
Orders Neuroptera, Hymenoptera, and Diptera. — The
Dragon-Flies (Libellula) are frequently very difficult to kill, being
powerful and nervous animals. When caught they should be
transfixed through the sides, and it sometimes becomes necessary
to put braces on their wings to prevent them from fluttering while
in the hunting box. They may also be killed sometimes by placing
them under a tumbler and suffocating them. Some Entomologists
put them in scalding water for an instant.
* The contents of the abdomen should always be removed from
Dragon Flies, otherwise it will become black and shining through
the skin, and destroy the beautiful bands with which they are
ornamented. They can be stuffed with cotton or a small roll of
paper introduced. If these precautions are attended to, the insect
will preserve the perfect beauty of its living state.
The other species of these Orders soon die after ^eing trans-
fixed. They may be set by braces and pins, as represented in
figures 35 and 37.
INSECTS. . 67
Some of the Dipterous insects are very perishable in point of
*olor after death, particularly in the abdomen, the skin of which
is very thin. The only way of remedying this is to pierce the
abdomen, and after taking out the contents the cavity should be
filled with a powdered paint the same color as the living subjects,
which will shine through and give it all the appearance of nature.
METHOD OF RELAXING DRIED INSECTS.
Insects frequently get stiffened before the Entomologist has
leisure to get them set ; and it usually happens that those sent
home from foreign countries have been ill set, and require to be
placed in more appropriate attitudes after they have fallen into
the hands of the scientific collector. They may be relaxed and
made as flexible as recently killed specimens by the following
simple process, from which they can receive no injury ; pin them
on a piece of cork and place the cork in a large basin or pan of
tepid water, and cover the top tight with a damp cloth, taking
care that it is sufficiently high not to injure the insects. In most
cases a few hours is sufficient to restore them to their original
flexibility, so that they may be easily put in their proper positions.
In some instances, three or four days are necessary to relax them
thoroughly, so as to set the wings without the risk of breaking
them ; no force whatever must be used with any of the members.
When set up, after being relaxed, they must be treated in exactly
the same manner as recent specimens.
We must again caution the Entomologist to be careful that he
applies the solution of corrosive sublimate to all his species, other-
wise there is little chance of their continuing long without being
attacked by the Mite ; they ought to be frequently imbued.
Mr. Waterton, who has studied deeply the subject of preserving
animal substances, and applied them not only in our own coun-
try, but also under the influence of a tropical climate, makes the*
following observations on the preservation of Insects : — " I only
know of two methods," says he, "to guard preserved insects
from the depredations of living ones. The first is, by poisoning
the atmosphere — the second is, by poisoning the prepared speci-
mens themselves, so effectually, that they are no longer food for the
depredators. But there are some objections to both these modes ;
a poisoned atmosphere will evaporate in time if not attended to,
£8 the taxidermist's guide.
or if neglected to be renewed ; and there is great difficulty in
poisoning some specimens on account of their delicacy and minute-
ness. If you keep spirits of turpentine in the boxes which con-
tain your preserved specimens, I am of opinion that those speci-
mens will be safe as long as the odor of the turpentine remains
in the box, for it is said to be the most pernicious of all scents to
insects. But it requires attention to keep up an atmosphere of
spirit of turpentine ; if it be allowed to evaporate entirely, then
there is a clear and undisputed path open to the inroads of the
enemy ; he will take advantage of your absence or neglect, and
when you return to view jouv treasure you will find it in ruins.
Spirits of turpentine poured into a common glass inkstand, in
which there is a piece of sponge, and placed in a corner of your
box, will create a poisoned atmosphere and kill every insect there.
The poisoning of your specimens by means of corrosive sublimate
in alcohol, is a most effective method. As soon as the operation
is properly performed, the depredating insect perceives that the
prepared specimen is no longer food for it, and will for ever cease
to attack it ; but then every part must have received the poison,
otherwise those parts where the poison has not reached will still
be exposed to the enemy, and he will pass unhurt over the
poisoned parts till he arrives at that part of your specimen
which is still wholesome food for him. Now, the difficulty lies
in applying the solution to very minute specimens without injur-
ing their appearance * and all that can be said is, to recommend
unwearied exertion, which is sure to bo attended with great skill,
and great skill will insure surprising success.
I am convinced that there is no absolute and lasting safety for
prepared specimens in Zoology from the depreciations of insects,
except by poisoning every part of them with a solution of cor-
rosive sublimate in alcohol.
Mr. Waterton is of opinion that tight boxes with aromatic
atmospheres are not to be depended upon in the preservation of
insects. He says : " The tight boxes and aromatic atmospheres
will certainly do a great deal, but they are liable to fail, for this
obvious reason, viz. : that they do not render for ever absolutely
baneful and abhorrent to the depredator that which in itself is
nutritious and grateful to him. In an evil hour, through neglect
in keeping up a poisoned atmosphere, the specimens collected by
industry and prepared by art, and which ought to live, as it were,
for the admiration of future ages, may fall a prey to an intruding
and almost invisible enemy, so that, unless the solution of cor-
rosive sublimate in alcohol is applied, you are never perfectly
safe from surprise. I have tried a decoction of aloes, wormwood
and walnut-leaves, thinking they would be of service on account
of their bitterness. The trial completely failed.
Many Entomologists are satisfied with possessing the insect in
its perfect or image condition. But it is exceedingly interesting
to be able to trace these through their different states of existence
from the egg to the perfect insect. Besides, we are certain to
produce the insects in the highest state of preservation when we
breed them ourselves, and it is besides very interesting to have
the eggs of the different species as well as the Caterpillar and
THE EGGS OF INSECTS.
The eggs of insects preserve their form and color in a cabinet,
in general, without much trouble. Swammerdam had a method
of preserving them when they appeared to be giving way. He
made a perforation within them with a fine needle, pressed out
their contents, afterwards inflated them with a glass blow-pipe,
and filled them with a mixture of resin and oil of spike.
THE LARVAE, OR CATERPILLARS.
The easiest way of destroying the Catapillar is by immersion in
spirits of wine. They may be retained for a long time in this
spirit without destroying their color.
Mr. William Weatherhead had an ingenuous mode of pre-
serving Larvss. He killed the Caterpillar, as above directed, and
having made a small puncture in the tail, gently pressed out the
contents of the abdomen, and then filled the skin with fine dry
sand, and brought the animal to its natural circumference. It is
then exposed to the air to dry, and it will have become quite hard
in the course of a few hours, after which the sand may be shaken
out at the small aperture, and the Caterpillar then gummed to a
piece of card.
Another method is, after the entrails are squeezed out, to insert
into the aperture a glass tube which has been drawn to a very fine
70 THE TAXIDERMIST'S GUIDE.
point. The operator must blow through this pipe while he ken •
turning the skin slowly round over a charcoal lire ; the skin soon
becomes hardened, and, after being anointed with oil of spike
and resin, it may be placed in a cabinet when dry. A small straw
or pipe of gras may be substituted for the glass pipe.
Some persons inject them with colored wax after they are
When the insects have escaped from their Pupa skin, the skin
usually retains the shape and general appearance it did while it
contained the insect. It is therefore ready for a cabinet, without
any preparation whatever. But if the animal has not quitted its
envelope, it will be necessary either to drop the Pupa into warm
water, or to heat it in a tin case before the fire ; the former mode,
however, is the best, and least liable to change the colors of the
METHOD OF BREEDING INSECTS.
Breeding Cages. — These must be made of oak, or other hard
wood, as pine is apt to kill the Caterpillars, from its strong smell
of turpentine. The best form for these is represented in fig. 32.
The sides and front are covered with gauze ; a is a small square
box, for the reception of a phial of water, for placing the stalks
of plants in, on which it is intended the Caterpillars are to feed.
The most convenient size for a breeding cage is, eight inches in
breadth, four deep, and one foot in height. It is not proper to
place within a cage Kaore than one species of Caterpillar, as many
of them prey upon each other. Indeed animals of the same
species will devour each other, if left without food. The Cater-
pillars of insects, for the most part, will only eat one particular
kind of food, so that it is better to have no more than one sort in
There must be at the bottom of the cage earth to the depth of
two inches ; this should be mixed with some fine sand and veg-
etable earth, if possible, to prevent it from drying. The cages
should be kept in a cool cellar or damp place, because many in-
sects change into the Pupa condition under the earth ; so that it
would require to be somewhat moist, to prevent the destuction of
^2 THE TAXIDERMIST'S GUIDE.
the animal. The shell or case of the Pupa also becomes hard, if
the earth is nat kept moist ; and, in that event, the animal will
not have sufficient strength to break its case at the time it ought
to emerge from its confinement, and must consequently die, which
but too frequently happens from mismanagement.
Some seasons are more favorable than others for the produc-
tion of Caterpillars, and to keep each kind by themselves would
require an immense number of cages, as well as occupy much
time in changing the food, and paying due attention to them.
To obviate this, some persons have large breeding cages, with a
variety of food in them, which must be cleaned out every two
days, and fresh leaves given to the Caterpillars ; as, on due atten-
tion to feeding, the beauty and vigor of the coming insects will
The Larvae of insects, which feed beneath the surface of the
earth, may be bred in the following manner : Let any box that is
about three or four feet square, and two or three feet deep, be
lined internally with tin, and a number of very minute holes be
bored through the sides and bottom. Put into this box a quanity
of earth, replete with such vegetables as the Caterpillars subsist on,
and sink it into a bed of earth, so that the surface may be exposed
to the different changes of the weather. The lid should be covered
with brass or iron net-work, to prevent their escape, and for the
free admission of air.
The young Entomologist should obtain a cabinet of about
thirty drawers, arranged in two tiers, and covered in with folding
doors. There is a great convenience in this size, as the cabinet
is rendered more portable, and at the same time admits of having
another of the same size, being placed above the top of it, as the
collection increases, without injuring the uniformity, and thus
the drawers may be augmented to any extent. It is immaterial
whether the cabinet is made of mahogany or oak; sometimes
they are constructed of cedar, but seldom of pine, or any other
soft wood. Small cells must be made in the inside of the fronts
Corking of Drawers. — The simplest way to get the cork is
to purchase it of a cork-cutter, ready prepared, but it will be
much cheaper for the Entomologist to prepare it himself. In this
case, it should be cut into strips of about three inches wide,
INSECTS. 1 3
with a cork-cutter's knife, to smooth the surface and to divide it.
The strips should be fixed in a vice, and cut to the thickness re-
quired with a fine saw ; but grease must not be used in the
operation, as it will not only prevent the cork from adhering
to the bottom of the drawer, but will also grease the paper
which should be pasted on its surface. The black surface of
the cork should be rasped down to a smooth surface. After hav-
ing reduced the slips to about three quarters of an inch in thick-
nssc, the darkest, or worst side of the slip should be glued down
to a sheet of brown, or cartridge paper ; this should be laid on
a deal board, about three feet in length, and the width required
for a drawer or box ; a few fine nails, or brads, must be driven
through each piece of cork to keep.it firm and in its place
until the glue be dried ; by this means, sheets of cork may be
formed the size of the drawer. All the irregularities are filed
or rasped down quite to a leval surface, and then polished
smooth with pumice-stone. The sheet, thus formed and finished,
is glued into the drawers. To prevent its warping, some weights
must be equally distributed over the cork, that it may adhere
firmly to the bottom of the drawer. When quite dry, the weights
are removed, and the cork covered with fine white paper, but
not very thick. The paper is allowed to be quite damp with
the paste before it is placed on the cork, and, when dry, it will
become perfectly tight.
Insect cabinets should be kept in a veiy dry situation, other-
wise the antenna?, legs, &c, will became quite mouldy. The
same evil will ensue if the insect is not perfectly dry before it
is placed in the cabinet. Should an insect be covered with mould,
it can be washed off with a camel's hair pencil, dipped in cam-
phorated spirits of wine ; in which case, the insect must be dried
in a warm airy situation, before being placed in the cabinet.
There should always be plenty of camphor kept in the drawers,
otherwise there is great danger to be apprehended from mites :
where these exist, they are easily discovered by the dust which is
under the insects by which they are infested. In which case, %
they must be immediately taken out, and rubbed clean with a fine
camel's hair pencil, and well imbued with the solution of corro-
sive sublimate, and then placed near a fire, taking care, how-
ever, that too great a heat is not applied, as it will utterly destroy
H THE TAXIDERMIST'S GUIDE.
the specimen. The Butterfly, Sphinx, and Moth tribes are ex-
tremely liable to the attack of mites, and should, therefore be
SHELL FISH, TO PRESERVE — AND THE ART OF POLISHING
Cuttle Fish, and all other Mulluscous animals, can only be
preserved in spirits. The same observation applies to the ani-
mals which inhabit that numerous tribe called Testaceous Shells.
They must be detached from the shells, and put into spirits,
while the shells themselves must be preserved, independent of
the animal. « .
Shells naturally arrange themselves under three distinct heads;
Marine, Land, and Fluviatile, or Fresh Water.
Marine Shells are only to be expected perfect, when procured
in a living state. The way to extract the animal, is to pour some
warm water on it ; but, if made too hot, it is liable to crack the
shells. When the animals are dead, they can easily be pulled
out with any hooked instrument, or fork, or if the animal is small,
by a common pin. This applies to all Marine Shells, whether
Univalve, Bivalve, or Tubular. It is of great consequence to
preserve the ligament of Bivalve shells entire, so that the valves
may not be separated. The animals of Land and Fresh Water
shells are killed by the same means, only that the water requires
to be very hot.
Unless the shells are covered with any extraneous matter, it is
not necessary to clean them. Marine Shells are, however, very
liable to be incrusted with other marine bodies, particularly with
Serpula and Balani, &c. These must be started off by means of
a sharp instrument : an engraving tool is well adapted for this
purpose. This must be done with great caution, in species which
have spines and other excrescences, as they are very liable to be
broken. Should any of the calcareous matter still adhere, this
must be removed, by applying to it a wry tc$a7c mixture of
SHELL FISH, ETC. 75
muriatic acid and water, applied with the point of a quill, and
then plunged into water, and allowed to remain till the acid is
quite extracted. But on no account whatever, attempt to eradi-
cate these parasitic bodies by means of acid, or acid and water alone,
as the chances are that the shell will be completely destroyed by
their application. We have seen many fine and valuable shells
destroyed by an injudicious^ application of acids — they should
never be used when it can possibly be avoided. We have, on the
other hand, seen shells which were so completely enveloped in
calcareous crust, that it was impossible to trace their external
surface, most thoroughly cleared of all this, without being touched
at all by acids, the whole being removed by a small knife or
other sharp instrument ; and these, in many cases, having long
and tender spines externally.
Nothing can be more monstrous than the application of pumie-
stone, which some recommend, for polishing shells ; as is also
the use of tripoli, rotten-stone, and imry. Neither do we approve
the application of varnishes, as such shells never have their
If a shell is found dead upon the beach it is probable that it
will have undergone a certain degree of decomposition, that is, it
will have parted with part of its animal matter, and consequently
the colors will have faded and the surface present a chalky
appearance. To remove this take a small proportion of Florence
oil and apply it to the surface, when the colors, which were
invisible, will appear. When completely saturated with oil let
the shell be rubbed dry and placed in a cabinet. Oil may also be
applied after acid has been used, and it will be found extremely
useful, when applied to dry the epidermis, which it will prevent
from cracking or quitting the shell entirely, which it frequently
Whether Marine Shells are procured in a living or dead state,
a very necessary precaution is to immerse them in pure tepid
water after the animal has been extracted, and allow them to
continue in it for an hour or two so as completely to extract any
salt or acid which may be in them.
Fresh water Shells are liable to a calcareous or earthy incrusta-
tion, which must be removed by immersing them in warm water,
and afterwards scraping and brushing them with a nail or tooth-
76 THE TAXIDERMIST'S GUIDE.
brush. Much nicety is necessary in cleaning these, as their great
thinness renders them, in general, liable to be broken. A little Flor-
ence oil will improve the appearance of the epidermis and render
it less liable to crack.
Land Shells seldom require any cleaning except washing in
water, as they are not liable to incrustations of any kind.
When shells are perforated by marine animals, or otherwise
broken, if the specimen is rare, it is desirable to remedy these
defects as far as possible ; they may therefore be filled up, or
pieces added to them with the cement, which may be colored,
when dry, to its original state.
OF POLISHING SHELLS.
Many species of Marine and Fresh water Shells are composed
of mother-of-pearl, generally covered with a strong epidermis.
When it is wished to exhibit the external structure of shells, the
epidermis is removed and the outer testaceous coatings polished
down till the pearlaceous structure becomes visible. It has been
a common practice to remove the strong epidermis of shells by
means of strong acids, but this is a hazardous and tedious mode
of operating. The best method is to put the shells into a pan of
cold w r ater with a quantity of quicklime and boil it for two to four
hours, according to the thickness of the epidermis. The shells
afterwards must be gradually cooled, and some strong acid applied
to the epidermis, when it will easily peel off. Two hours are suf-
ficient for the common muscle being boiled. The shells are after-
wards polished with rotton-stone and oil, put on a piece of chamois
The epidermis of the Uno Margaritifera is so thick that it
requires from four to five hours boiling. After the epidermis has
been removed, there is beneath it a thick layer of dull calcareous
matter which must be started off with a knife or other sharp
instrument ; this requires great labor, but, when accomplished, a
fine mother-of-pearl is exhibited which adds an agreeable variety
as a specimen.
Various Turbos and Trochuses are also deprived of their epi-
dermis and polished with files, sand-paper, pumice-stone, &c. , till
the pearly appearance is obtained ; but all these modes are in-
vented for disfiguring rather than improving the shells in the eye
PREPARING SKELETONS. 77
of the naturalist, and should never be resorted to except where
the species is very common, in which case it is well enough to do
so with one or two specimens to show the structure of the shells.
After the operation of polishing and washing with acids, a little
Florence oil should be rubbed over to bring out the colors and
destroy the influence of the acid.
CLEANING AND PREPARING BONES IN GENERAL.
As much of the fleshy parts should be removed from bones
intended for preparation as possible with the scalpel, but it is not
required that they should be separated from each other more than
is necessary for placing them in a vessel for the purpose of ma-
ceration. The bones are to be entirely covered with water which
should be changed every day for about a week, or as long as it
becomes discolored with blood, after which, allow them to remain
in water without changing till putrefaction has thoroughly de-
stroyed all the remaining flesh ; this will require from three to
six months, according to the season of the year or temperature of
the atmosphere, but in warmer climates putrefaction will take
place more rapidly. In tropical climates, fourteen day will be
sufficient to disengage the flesh completely from the bones.
The large cylindrical bones of the thighs and arms should have
holes bored in their extremities of the size of a goose quill to give
the water access to their cavities and a free exit to the medullary
As the water will gradually diminish in quantity, from evapora-
tion, more should be added from time to time, so that none of the
bones, or any part of them, may remain uncovered, as by expo-
sure to the atmosphere they will become of a dirty color and have
a disagreeable appearance. To be free from such stains is con-
sidered a great beauty in skeletons.
f 8 the taxidermist's guide.
In towns the macerating vessels should always be*closely cov-
ered, as from neglecting this the water U apt to get
■&• Tf mixed with particles of soot and other impurities
which have a strong tendency to blacken the bones.
When the putrefaction has destroyed the ligaments,
the bones are then fit for cleaning, which is clone
by scraping off the flesh, ligaments and periosteum.
When this is effected, the bones should be again laid
in clean water for a few days and well washed ; they
ought then to be placed in lime water or a solution of
pearlash for a week, when they may be taken out to
dry, after having soaked them five or six hours in
pure water to remove the solution of pearlash which would act
upon their surface when exposed to the atmosphere.
Iu drying bones they should not be exposed to the rays of the
sun, or to a fire, as too great a degree of heat brings the remain-
ing medullary oil into the compact substance of the bones, and
gives them a disagreeable oily transparency. This is the great ob-
jection to the process of boiling bones, for the purpose of
making skeletons, as the heat applied in that way has the same
effect, unless they are boiled in a solution of pear-ash, which
some are of opinion is one of the most effectual methods of
whitening them by its effectually destroying the oil. But
there can be but little doubt that bleaching is, of all methods,
the most effectual where it can be done to its greatest advantage,
namely, in a pure air, and more especially on a sea shore.
It is much more difficult to clean the bone3 of animals that
have died in good condition than those that are lean and reduced
Natural skeletons are made without separating the bones
from each other, in which case all animal ligaments are allowed
to remain entire. This plan is^ generally adopted, w T ith young
and small animals, because the ligaments when dry, being di-
vested of their natural flexibility, occasion an inconvenience,
as the different extents and varieties of motion cannot be shown
in the different articulations.
PREPARING SKELETONS. 79
In making these, we are first to remove from the bones the
skin, muscles, tendons, and viscera, and, in short, everything ex-
cept the connecting ligaments'and cartilages, which ought to be
carefully preserved. This is done without any regular order of
dissection ; neither in this part of the process need any attention
be paid to making the bones clean. The brain may be removed
through an opening in the large fontanel, if the subject is very
young, if not, a perforation may be made with the trephine for
that purpose. Some separate the head from the spine, so that
the brain may be the more easily removed by the occipital hole.
The skeleton is put in water and allowed to remain for several
days, it is then taken out and more thoroughly cleaned by a knife,
forceps, and scissors, and replaced in fresh water. This is re-
peated from day to day, constantly changing the water, the ob-
ject being to preserve the ligaments fresh and transparent. It is
of great consequence to work hard by daily scraping and scrub-
bing until the bones arc deprived of their blood and oleaginous
matter and become white and clean, then remove them into clean
lime water, or solution of pearl-ash, for two or three days,
to take off any greasiness, and give a more beautiful white.
When they have lain long enough, wash them with clean water;
they are then placed in a position, by the assistance of a frame or
piece of wood and wire, exposing them to a current of air. When
perfectly dry, they may receive a coating of copal or mastic var-
It must be kept in view, that if the preparation is allowed to
remain too long in the state of maceration, the ligaments them-
selves will be destroyed by putrefaction, and the intention of pro-
curing a natural skeleton defeated.
An excellent and simple way of procuring natural skeletons of
Mice, small birds, and fish, is to put them into a box of the
proper size, in which holes are bored on all sides, and then buried
in an Ant hill. The Ants will enter numerously at these holes
and eat away all the fleshy parts, leaving only the bones and con-
necting ligaments; they may be afterwards macerated in clean
water for a day or two to extract the bloody color, and to cleanse
them from any dirt they may have acquired, then whitened by
lime and alum water, and dried in frame or otherwise, as may
be most convenient. In country situations Wasps may be cm-
80 THE TAXIDERMIST'S GUIDE.
ployed in this service; these are most voracious animals, and if a
skeleton is placed near one of their nests, or in an empty sugar
cask, where they resort in plenty, they will perform the dissection
with much greater expedition, and equally well as the Ants.
Wasps have been known to clean the skeleton on a mouse or
small bird in three or four hours, while Ants would require a week
to effect it.
When the animal is of a large size, the ligaments are some-
times unable to sustain the weight of the bones, in which case,
an iron wire of sufficient thickness is passed through the centre
of the back bone, which must pass out anteriorly, so as to fix the
head to the cervical vertebra. It is made in the form of two
forks, the one for the support of the anterior, the otfier for the
exterior part ; for this purpose two pieces of iron wire are taken
the length of the skeleton, they are twisted together, leaving a
fork at each extremity, and are then both fixed to the board on
which the skeleton is to be placed. One of these should enter
the ribs and encompass the back bone, between the scapular
bones on each shoulder ; the other two should pass between the
bones of the pelvis.
It not unusually happens that pieces of the skeleton detach
one from another, in which case, two holes are bored in the ends
of the bones, which are separated, and are re-united by means of
small brass wires.
Skeletons of man and animals, of a midling and large size,
cannot be made in the manner described for natural skeletons.
In this case, the bones, covered by the flesh, are immersed in
water, and allowed to remain without changing it, until the soft
parts begin to get putrid, when the animal matter is easily
removed ; and by repeating the maceration two or three times, it
may all be completely abstracted. The duration necessary for
first maceration will depend upon the state of the atmosphere,
being always much shorter in Summer than in Winter.
After the fleshy matter has been completely freed from the
bones, they should be exposed on the roof of a house, or other
convenient situation, until they are rendered quite white, and free
from grease. _ *
PREPARING SKELETONS. 81
The fat in bones bears a close resemblance to the fixed oils.
In the bones of whales it exists fluid like oil. In the long bones
of oxen, horses and other large quadrupeds, it is semi-fluid, con-
stituting the marrow. When, therefore, this is present in con-
siderable quantity, the process may be much accelerated by drill-
ing holes with a gimlet or other instrument in the opposite ends
of the bones, and injecting, by means of a syringe, a tepid solu-
tion of pearl-ash, the potash combining with the oleaginous matter,
forming a kind of soap, which, being soluable in water, is easily
removed. Chloride of lime is also employed for the same purpose.
The relative portion of earthy and animal matter varies accord-
ing to the nature of the bone, and the purposes it is intended to
serve. The bones of quadrupeds and birds contain a much
greater proportion of earthy matter than those of reptiles and
fishes, and hence are more easily cleaned. Here it may be re-
marked, that the color of bones varies in different animals. In
some common fowl it approaches to a dark yellowish brown.
Food exercises considerable influence on the color, as is demon-
strated in animals which feed on madder.
When the bones are perfect and dry, they are connected by
means of wire and screws, &c. This is the most difficult part of
the operation, as it requires considerable skill to reassemble the
bones, so that they may be placed in their natural order and
position. The operation is begun at one end of the extremities,
by making holes in the apophysis, or round ball of the bone.
This is effected by means of a wimble or lathe, or with a gimlet,
although this instrument has hardly sufficient power for perfora-
ting so hard a substance as bone. The bones are then attached
to each other in their natural order, with nealed iron wire, or
brass wire, by means of the perforations which have been made.
The ends of the wire should be twisted, and not too firmly, but
sufficient to allow a little play between the articulation ; this
mode to be pursued till the whole wires are put together. They
arc then ready for placing on a board, and are kept erect by
means of one or two perpendicular bars of iron, commensurate
to the weight of the skeleton. In the larger species of birds, one
support is necessary ; it is passed through the breast-bone and
attached under the spine, as represented k in the skeleton of the
Goshawk. The position of this support must be varied accord-
ing to the attitude in which the skeleton is to he placed.
82 the taxidermist's guide.
In skeletons of the Horse, the Ox, the Hippopotamus, the
Rhinoceros, the Camel, and the Elephant, the links of wire which
we have above described, are insufficient to unite their bones ; for
these, two iron pegs are used with a head at one end and a screw
at the other Each screw is provided with a nut, and each pair
of screws must have a narrow plate of iron bored at each end to
pass the screw through. Supposing the bones of the leg or thigh
of a large quadruped are to be united, a hole is bored through the
apophysis, about two inches from the extremity, and the same hav-
ing been done with both leg and thigh-bones, they are brought
together, and one of the screws passed into one of the holes of the
plates which he have mentioned, and then through the perfora-
tions in the bone, and lastly into the other plate ; they are tight-
ened together by means of the nut. The screws should be nearly
an inch longer than the thickness of the bones. The two ends of
lhe bones are tkus united and supported by the two plates which
are kept together by the screws. Provision must be made for the
play of the bones, by leaving a sufficient distance in boring the
holes, through which the pegs are passed.
The Horse and other animals require a double bar to support
them. A bar is also passed through the vertebra? of the neck,
spine, and tail, and the ribs are attached by means of wires, or
flat pieces of plate iron.
In these larger animals, the heads are for the most part sawn
through, for the purpose of studying the structure of the internal
cavity and partitions. These are kept together by means of a
hinge, so that they can be opened and shut at pleasure.
THE CHASE AND MANNER OF COLLECTING ANIMALS.
Quadrupeds and Birds. — It i3 hardly necessary to recommend
a double-barrelled gun. One of the barrels should be loaded with
small shot or dross of lead for small birds, and the other with
large shot. These should have much less powder than an ordinary
charge, so as not to tear and injure the animals. Paper, cotton,
or flax, and powdered dry earthen ashes should form part of the
MANNER OF COLLECTING ANIMALS. 83
When a bird is killed, a small quantity of dry dust is to be put
on the wound. For this purpose the feathers must be raised with
a pin, or a gun-picker, close to the wound. The bill of the bird
should have a small quantity of cotton or flax introduced into it
to prevent the blood from flowing, and spoiling the plumage. The
feathers must be all adjusted, and the bird then placed on the
ground to allow the blood to coagulate. Every specimen should
be placed in a piece of paper of the form of a hollow cone, like
the thumb bags used by grocers. The head should be introduced
into this, the paper should then be closed around the bird, and
packed in a box filled with moss, dried grass or leaves.
Birds taken alive in nets and traps are to be preferred to others
for stuffing, and also those caught by birdline, which must be re-
moved by spirits of wine.
Birds should always be skinned the same day they are killed,
or next day atf ar thest, particularly in Summer ; as there is a dan-
ger of putrefaction ensuing, by which the feathers will fall off.
However, in Winter there is no danger for some days ; but in
tropical climates they must be prepared soon after they are killed.
The same observations apply generally to quadrupeds.
Bats and Owls are caught during the day, in the hollows of
aged trees, in the crevices of walls, and ruins of buildings.
These are animals which, it may be presumed, are still little
known in consequence of their nocturnal habits.
Those who prepare for the chase, with the intention of preserv-
ing animals, should take care to provide themselves with imple-
ments necessary for fulfilling the objects advantageously. The
articles most needful are one or two pairs of large pincers, scis-
sors, forceps, scalpels, knives, needles, thread, and a small hatchet,
as well as one or more cannisters of preserving powder, some pots
of arsenical soap, or arsenical composition, and some bottles of
spirit of turpentine. Cotton may be employed in stuffing the
skins, and therefore a considerable quantity should always b *
taken along with the naturalist. In parts of Asia and Afrit-,
where this cannot be procured, tow must be employed, or old
ropes teazed down; and where even this cannot be found, dried
grass and moss may be used. M. Le Vaillant used a species of
dog-grass while in Africa, which is very abundant in that country ;
and it answered the purpose remarkably well.
84 the taxidermist's guide.
It being supposed that a traveler has an ample caravan, pro-
vided with all the necessaries which we have pointed out, and
having killed a quadruped, he will skin it immediately, according
to the method which we have pointed out. He will then sew up
the skin after receiving a partial stuffing, and having been anointed
with the arsenical soap or composition. All the extremities must
then be imbued with spirit of turpentine, and the skin should be
placed in some convenient place to dry, so that it may have the
advantage of complete exposure to the air. The turpentine must
be again applied at the end of three or four days, more especially
around the mouth of the quadruped.
It will be of the utmost advantage to remain a week or ten days
at one place ; by which means the naturalist will have had time
to render himself somewhat acquainted with the animals which
localize in that neighborhood. And as some species frequently
confine themselves to a very limited spot, by leaving the place too
hurriedly he is apt to overlook them.
After the traveler has determined on leaving his cantonment,
he must see that all the objects he has collected are in a condition
to be removed. He must examine carefully each specimen, and
see that they have not been attacked by the destructive insects,
so abundant in warm climates. Should flics have deposited their
eggs in the lips of the quadrupeds or birds, these must be destroyed
by spirit of turpentine. When a set of animals or birds are
thoroughly dry, they should be packed in a box or case, which
has been well joined.
A journal ought to be kept detailing all the circumstances con-
nected with the animals, the places in which they were killed, and
the color of their eyes, together with any information that can be
procured of their habits from the natives. People are too apt to
forget particulars when engaged in such varied pursuits, and the
eooner they are committed to paper the better.
When the traveler arrives in Africa, he will meet with animals
of the largest size ; such as the Elephant, Rhinoceros, Hippopot-
amus, Giraffe, Quagga, Urus, Bubulus, Condoma, as well as large
Antelopes and Deer. He will unquestionably find some difficulty
in his endeavors to bring with him the skins of these animals, as
in that country it is even troublesome, in many cases, to transport
the necessaries of life. But the ardor of the zealous naturalist
MANNER OF COLLECTING ANIMALS. 85
will here be increased by beholding such splendid specimens as
he can never meet with elsewhere. All his energies will be
strengthened, and every sacrifice made to enable him to transport
the fruits of his toils.
We need only to recur to tbe zeal manifested by Le Yalliant in
his travels, and the rapturous delight experienced by him when
he first beheld and killed the Giraffe. He brought this large skin
from CarTraria, where he killed the animal, a distance of two hun-
dred leagues from the Cape of Good Hope.
Should the traveler, accidentally, or in pursuit of natural objects,
find himself possessed of the carcase of one of flhese large and fine
animals, he would deeply regret not being able to fetch away the
skin from want of a knowledge how to separate it from the body.
We shall, therefore, suppose that he has killed an animal the size
of a Bull. He must first make an incision under the belly, in the
form of a double cross. The central line must reach from the
chin to the anus ; the two other transverse cuts must reach from
one foot to the other. These are always made inside, so that the
seams may be less conspicuous when the animal is mounted.
When the skin is stuffed, the hoofs are detached by laying them
on a stone, and striking them with a hatchet or mallet. The nails
or hoofs must be left attached to the skin. After this, the skin is
removed from the feet, legs, and thighs, and treated in other
respects as pointed out in skinning other large animals. The
bones of the head must be preserved if possible, leaving it attached
at the muzzle only. All the muscles must be removed from the
head, and the bones rendered as clean as possible.
As it is probable that an animal of this magnitude has been
killed at a great distance from any habitation, tliere will not be an
opportunity of macerating the hide in alum and water. The skin
will also be too thick for the arsenical soap to penetrate with
effect. Under these circumstances, the next best thing to pre-
serve it is to take the ashes of a wood lire, and rub it well inside.
The skin should then be stretched along the boughs of a tree, and
allowed to dry. The skull, after it has been dried, must be re-
turned into the skin, and the lips, ears, and feet, imbued plenti-
fully with turpentine, which operation must be several times re-
peated at intervals. Nothing is more effectual in preventing the
attacks of insects than this spirit, and no larvae will exist in places
which it has touched.
86 the taxidermist's guide.
. The skin will be sufficiently dried within two or three days, so
that the hair may be turned inwards. If some common salt can
be procured, a solution of it should be made, and the hair rubbed
with it. Both sides of the skin must be rubbed with this two or
three times, at intervals of a day.
"When sufficiently dry, the skin may be rolled up and packed.
The hair ought to be inwards, with a layer of dried grass inter-
vening, to prevent friction during conveyance. The operation of
rolling up the skin must be begun at the head.
If the journey is long, the skin should be unrolled, and placed
in the sun for a few hours, and the places liable to the attack of
moths should be again rubbed with turpentine.
When a skin thus prepared has reached the place where it is to
be put up, it must undergo a preparation previous to its being
mounted. In the first place, it must be extended along the ground
with the hair undermost, so that it may acquire fresh pliability,
and those parts which remain stiff must be moistened with tepid
water. The skin must then be placed in a large vessel of water
saturated with alum, there to remain eight or ten' days ; after
which, it must be extended on half rounded pieces of wood, and
thinned with a sharp knife, which is facilitated by the projections
of the wood, enabling the operator the more easily to cut it, while
it is gradually shifted, till the whole has been pretty equally
thinned. When this operation is completed, it is allowed to soak
in water with an equal quantity of that saturated with the alum.
Twenty-four hours will be sufficient.
In hunting for Snakes, great caution must be exercised, as it is
well known that the bite of some of theseproves fatal within a
quarter of an hour, jJarticularly that of the Rattlesnake and some
others. Indeed, it would be more prudent to allow the natives
to hunt for these poisonous reptiles, as they are better acquainted
with their haunts, and the means of defence to be employed in
this dangerous pursuit. They are also better acquainted with
those which are poisonous. We may, however, remark, that
the poisonous Snakes have, in general, much larger heads than
those which are harmless, and their necks are also narrow.
Shells, on account of the elegance and variety of their forms,
and beauty of then* colors, are objects much sought after, not
MANNER OF COLLECTING ANIMALS. 87
only by naturalists but also by most persons who arc unac-
quainted with science. There is no species, particularly in remote
climes, which does not deserve to be brought home, the things
most common in those countries being frequently the most rare
in ours. Shells are found on every part of the surface of the
globe Some are inhabitants of the land, while others only
frequent rivers, lakes, ponds, and ditches ; and another and more
numerous class live in the ocean. Land-shells are spread over
the whole surface of the earth, and although more accessible, are
perhaps less known than those which inhabit the "mighty deep."
Land-Shells, for the most part, arc to be found creeping
abroad either in the evening or after a gentle shower of rain.
During the heat of the day they retire to shaded retreats, un-
der thick bushes, the crevices of rocks, the hollows of decayed
trees, or under their bark ; beneath stones, amongst moss, or in
holes in the ground. A little experience will teach the naturalist
readily to find their retreats.
Fresh Water Shells must be sought for, if in deep lakes,
with a dredge, or if in shallow places, with a tin spoon fixed on
the end of a stick. This is made of a circular piece of tin four
inches and a half in diameter, beat concave, and then perforated
with numerous small holes, not exceeding the sixteenth part
ofaninchin diameter; around this must be soldered a perpen-
dicular rim, three-quarters of an inch broad, and also perforated
with holes. To this must be attached a hollow tubular handle
three inches long, for the insertion of a walking-stick. It must
have a few holes towards its outer end for passing a string through,
to tie it firmly, and prevent it being lost. With this spoon the
collector must rake along the mud at the bottom of ditches or
ponds, and after bringing a quantity to the surface, he must wash
the mud entirely away, by shaking the spoon on the top of the
water, and it will all pass through the holes and leave the shells.
The sharp edge of the spoon is also useful in detaching aquatic
shells from the under surface of the leaves of water-plants.
The large Swan-Muscle (Anadonta Cygned), and other Anadons,
generally lie deep in the mud, so that they cannot be procured
by dredging. I found it necessary to invent a net to fish for
these. This consisted of an iron triangle of twelve inches, with
a hollow handle fixed on its base, and in this is inserted a pole of
88 TEE TAXIDERMIST V GUIDE.
sufficient length to reach the bottom. It is firmly screwed to the
handle. A net is attached to the triangle either of twine or hair-
cloth. The point of the triangle should be sharp, so that it may
the more easily penetrate the mud, and it is drawn through it in
situations where shells are supposed to exist.
Marine Shells.— These are to be found in all seas ; some of
them inhabit rocks on the shore within high-water mark : others
reside in deep water, and can only be taken by dredging, or by
the use of a kind of net called in France the Gangui, and an in-
strument called the Rake has also been successfully used.
Different species of sea-weed are frequently covered by minute
shells, — weeds should always be carefully examined. Many of
the smaller and microscopic shells are found at high-water mark
among the fine dross and drifted fragments of shells ; this sand
should be brought home and examined at leisure. To facilitate
the process, a small wire-cloth sieve should be made, of about six
or seven inches square, and all the sand sifted through it, and the
Many upecies of worms, and other soft invertebrate animals,
are to be caught also by the dredge. There is no way of preserv-
ing these animals except by putting them in spirits. Animals of
this kind are still very imperfectly known, notwithstanding the
researches of Lamarck, Poli, and other celebrated naturalists.
Every opportunity should, therefore, be embraced of bringing
them home; indeed, we are still little acquainted with those
which inhabit our own seas.
When animals of this kind are procured in foreign parts, a
careful noting of the latitude should be taken ; and it should be
stated whether they live singly or are congregated, if they arc
phosphorescent, and if they were taken in deep water. And as
these animals are very liable to lose their colors by being put in
spirits, a careful noting of these should be taken whenever they
are caught, as the colors are very evanescent ; or, what would
be still better, a drawing of the animal should be made.
Intestinal Worms. — Whenever we have killed either a quad-
ruped, bird, or fish, we should carefully examine the stomach
and intestinal canal of the animal, to sec if there are any worms;
MANNER OF COLLECTING ANIMALS. 89
indeed, there are few animals without them ; they must also be
preserved in spirits. Besides the stomach and intestines, worms
are also found in the livers and other parts of the body ; also
in the back of skate and various fishes.
This class is subject to infinite variety, according to climate and
soil. The Entomologist, or the mere collector, must not confine
himself to those whose beauty of coloring renders them attrac-
tive, but collect all that come in the way. Those species which
have wings, and fly around plants, we take by means of gauze
nets, and also those which swim in the water. Those which
live on putrid substances, and such as are disagreeable to the
touch, are seized with pincers ; they are first put into camphor-
ated spirits to render them clean. Trees are the habitations of
innumerable insects; many of them skulk under the old rotten
bark, and others attach themselves to the foliage. A cloth should
be spread under the trees, or an umbrella, and the branches
shaken with considerable force, when they will fall down, and
may then be caught.
Insects are killed by making a crow-quill into a long point
and dipping it into prussic acid, an incision with it may bo made
immediately below tho head of the insect betwixt the shoulders,
which usually produces instant death. But this acid must be
used with much caution, because its effects are almost as instan-
taneous and fatal in the human subject as in the lower animals.
When cork cannot be had for lining the bottoms of the boxes,
a layer of beeswax may be used in its stead. The pin should
be deeply sunk in this substance, as it is more liable to loosen
than when in cork.
It is of much importance to procure the Caterpillar as well
as the insect, and, in this case, some of the leaves on which it
feeds should be placed in a box beside it, so that it may reach
maturity. A small perforation should be made in the box for
the admission of air.
Every kind of insect, except Butterflies, Sphinges, and Moths,
may be preserved in bottles of spirits, which will not injure
them ; when they are taken out they are immediately placed
in the position in which it is wished to preserve them, and they
90 THE TAXIDERMIST'S GUIDE.
are then allowed to dry. Another mode of preserving Cleop-
terous insects, such as Beetles, &c, is to put them in a dry box
amongst line sand. A row of insects is placed in a layer of
sand, and then a new layer of about an inch in depth laid on
the top, and so on till the box is filled. This mode of pack-
ing will not, however, do with soft insects and those having fine
It is extremely desirable that all the different kinds of Spiders
should be caught, particularly those said to be venomous ; also
Termites, or White Ants, the different Scolopendra and Gaily
"Worms, &c. The nests of Spiders and other insects should also
be sent home ; in short, every insect which is remarkable, in any
way, either for its history or properties.
It is also of much importance to bring specimens of the plants
on which they feed ; these should be dried, and their localities
marked, the kind of soil on which they grow, and the situations,
whether moist or dry, should be noted.
Woods, Hedges, and Lanes. — By far the greatest portion of
iusects arc found in these situations. In woods, the Entomologist
must beat the branches of the trees into his folding net, and must
select for this purpose the open paths, skirts, &c. . The trunks of
trees, gates, and timber which is cut down, should be carefully
examined, and a great many Lepidopterous and Coleopterous
insects are found in these situations, and in no other. In hedges
and lanes, many of the most valuable and beautiful insects are
found, as also in nettles and other plants which grow under them ;
these should be well beat, but more especially when the white
thorn blossoms in the months of May and June Hedges where
the roads are dusty are very seldom productive.
Heaths and Commons.— Many insects are peculiar to these
situations from the plants which grow on them, as well as from
the dung of cattle, by which many of them are frequented, in the
latter of which many thousands of insects may be found in a
single day, in the months of April and May. These are prin-
• cipaily of the Order Coleoptera.
Sand Pits. — These are- favorable for the propagation of
Capri* lunarius, JKotoxu* monocerof, LixUs sulcirostris and other
MANXES OP COLLECTING ANIMALS. 91
rare insects. Minute species arc found abundantly at the roots of
Meadows, Marshes and Ponds. — In meadows, when the
Ranunculi or butter-cups, are in blossom, many Muzccb and Dip-
terous insects generally abound. The flag-rushes are the habita-
tions of Cassida, Donacina and others. Drills in marshes should
be examined, as many species of insects arc found on long grass.
The larvae of various Lepidpptcra and Neuroptera arc confined to
these situations, more especially if hedges and trees are near the
spot. Ponds are rich in microscopic insects. These are obtained
by means of the landing net, which, for this purpose, need not be
go long as represented in fig. 1, and should be made of pretty
thick cotton cloth, but sufficiently thin to allow the water to es-
cape. The mud, which is brought up from the bottom of ponds
and ditches, should be examined, and what small insects arc found
may be put in a small phial filled with water, which will not only
clean them, but keep them alive ; and in many instances the
naturalist will be surprised, upon the examination of these, the
most wonderful productions of nature.
Moss, Decayed Trees, Roots of Grass, &c. — Many insects
will be found in moss and under it ; the roots and wood of de-
cayed trees afford nourishment and a habitation to a number of
insects ; many of the larvse of Lepidoptera penetrate the trunks of
trees in all directions ; most of the Cerambyces feed on wood, as
well as some species of Cardbidaz Elateridce, &c. In seeking for
these, it is necessary to use the digger. It is sometimes requisite
to dig six or seven inches into the wood before they are found.
Banks op Ponds and Roots of Grass. — These are a never-
failing source of collecting, which may be followed at all seasons
of the year, and in general with great success; those banks are to
be preferred which have the morning or noon-day sun.
Banks of Rivers, Sandy Sea Shore, &c— These situations
afford a great variety of Coleoptera, Crustacea, &c. The dead car-
cases of animals thrown on the shore should be examined, as
they are the receptacles and food of Silphiodce J Staphilinid& y &c.
May and June are the best seasons for collecting these insects.
Dead Animals, and Dried Bones, should be constantly ex-
amined, for these are the natural habitats of several insects. It
92 the taxidermist's guide.
is not uncommon for country people to hang dead moles on
bushes; under these the Entomologist should place his net, and
shake the boughs on which they are hung, as many of the Cole-
optera generally inhabit these.
Fuxgi and Flowers. — These are the constant abode of insects,
and many curious species will be found on them.
It is a mistaken idea that insects arc only to be found in sum-
mer, as they are to be met with, either in a living or pupa state,
at all seasons. Dried moss, beneath the bark of trees, and under
stones, arc extremely likely places to find insects in winter; and
even then the Entomologist is more likely to procure some of
the rare species, than in summer, as these are ranging in search
of food, and in situations hidden from view.
At this season, if the weather is mild, the pupae of Lepidoptera
will be found^at the roots of trees, more especially those of the
elm. oak, lime, &c, or beneath the underwood, close to the trees,
and these frequently at the depth of some inches under the
In the months of June, July and August, the woods are the
best places to search for insects. Most of the Butterflies are
taken in those months, flying about in the day-time only-
Moths arc either found at break of day, or at twilight in the
evening. The following method of taking Moths is pointed
out by Haworth, in speaking of the Oak Moth (Bombyx Quercus).
" It is a frequent practice with the London Aurelians," says he,
"when they breed a female, of this and some other day-flying
species, to take her, whilst yet a virgin, into the vicinity of
woods, where, if the weather is favorable, she never fails to
attract a numerous train of males, whose only business seems to
be an incessant, rapid, and undulating flight, in search of their
unimpregnated females ; one of which .is no sooner perceived,
than they become so much enamoured of their fair and chaste rela-
tion, as absolutely to lose all kinds of fear for their own personal
safety, which, at other times, is effectually secured by the reiter-
ated evolutions of their strong and rapid wings. So fearless,
indeed, have I beheld them on these occasions, as to climb up and
down the sides of a cage which contained the dear object of their
eager pursuit, in exactly the same hurrying manner as honey-bees,
which have lost themselves, climb up and down the glasses of a
FOR VARIOUS ARTICLES USED IN THE PRESERVATION AND
SETTING UP OF ANIMALS.
SOLUTION OF CORROSIVE SUBLIMATE.
Mr. Waterfall's Method.
Put a good large tea-spoonful of well-pounded corrosive subli-
mate into a wine bottle full of alcohol (spirits of wine). Let it
stand over night, and, the next morning, draw it off into a clean
bottle. When the solution is applied to black substances, and
little white particles are perceived on them, it will be necessary
to make it weaker, by the addition of some alcohol.
A black feather, dipped in the solution, and then dried, will
be a good test of the state of the solution : if it be too strong, it will
leave a whiteness upon the feather.
Invented by Becoeur, Apothecary ;, Metz.
Arsenic, in powder, - - - 2 pounds.
Camphor, 5 ounces.
White Soap, 2 pounds.
Salt of Tartar, 12 ounces.
Powdered Lime, - . - - - 4 ounces.
The soap must be cut in small and very thin slices, put into a
crucible with a small quantity of water, held over a gentle fire,
and frequently stirred with a wooden spatula, or a piece of wood of
any kind. When it is properly melted, the powdered lime and salt
of tartar must then be added, and thoroughly mixed. It must
now be taken off the fire, the arsenic added gently, and stirred.
The camphor must be reduced into a powder, by beating it in a mor-
tar, with the addition of a little spirits of wine. The camphor
must then be added, and the composition well mixed with a spat-
ula, while off the fire. It may be again placed on the fire, to as-
sist in making the ingredients incorporate properly, but not much
heated, as the camphor will very rapidly escape. It may now
94 ttie taxidermist's guide.
be poured into glazed earthen pots, and allowed to cool, after
which a piece of paper should be placed over the top, and after-
wards some sheep leather ; and then set aside for use. The com-
position is about the thickness of ordinary flour paste.
When it is necessary to use the soap, put as much as will an-
swer the purpose into a preserve pot, and add to it about an equal
proportion of water. This is applied to the skin or feathers with a
N.B. It should be kept as close as possible, and used with cau-
tion, as it is a deadly poison.
The above is the receipt made use of at the Jardin des Plantes,
Mr. Laurent's Receipt
A distinguished French naturalist, Laurent, recommends the
following composition, after ten years experience, for preserving
the skins of stuffed animals. He observes, at the same time, that
it penetrates them with greater readiness, and preserves them
much better than any preparation which has hitherto been in use.
Arseniate of Potash - - -2 drachms.
Sulphate of Alumine, - - - 2 do.
Powdered Camphor, - * - 2 do.
White Sca;^, powdered, - - - -J oz.
Spirits of Wine, - - - - 6 oz.
Essence of Thyme, - - - 3 drops.
The arseniate of potash, sulphate of alumine, and soap, are to
be placed in a phial, with a large mouth, and the spirits of wine
to be poured on them, at a heat of twenty-five degrees, and they
will be perfectly combined in twenty-four hours. The essenco
of thyme is then added, when the phial must be parefully corked.
This composition is to be shaken together, before it is made use
of, and it must be spread over the skin of the animal or bird with
SOLUTION OF PEARL-ASHES.
Two ounces of pearl-ash to one gallon of water.
ANNEALED IRON WIRE.
Take common iron wire, make it red hot, and suffer it to cool
gradually ; this renders it soft and pliable, so that it may be easily
bent in any direction.
Pine Whitening, - - • - 2 oz.
Gum- Arabic, - - • - - 2 oz.
Finest Flour, - - - - - i oz.
Ox-Gall, a tea-spoonful.
The whole to be dissolved, and mixed well with water into
This is well adapted for attaching different objects, and espe-
cially for fixing shells to pasteboard, &c.
White Sugar Candy, - - - • 2 oz.
Common Gum- Arabic - - - - 4 oz.
Let these be melted in a pot of hot water, and then strained
through a linen or horse-hair sieve. When properly dissolved,
add to it two table-spoonf ulls of starch, or hair-powder, and mix
the whole well together. This paste may be used for many pur-
poses, audit never spoils. It may be dried, and by pouring a
little warm water on it, it will soon be ready for use. If it is
wished to be all melted, and hurriedly, the pot containing it
should be placed in warm water, or sand.
Make flour paste in the ordinary way, and add to it a small
portion of the solution of corrosive sublimate, or powdered cor-
rosive sublimate. This will prevent the attack of mites, to
which paste is very liable when dried. This paste may be dried
into a cake, and moistened when required.
SOLUTIPN OF GUM-ARABIC.
The solution of gum-arabic is made by simply adding water to
it. When used as a varnish, or for attaching objects, it is ex-
tremely apt to get too brittle, in very warm weather, and to crack,
or split off in scales ; to prevent this, a quarter of an ounce of
white or brown sugar candy must be added to two ounces of
PAPER PASTE, GUMMED.
Take a coffee-pot, filled with water, and add to it a quantity of
paper, which has been slightly sized, like that used for printing
9Q the taxidermist's guide.
engravings. Let it boil for three hours, and, when the water
has evaporated, boil it again for a similar length of time. Take
out the paper, and squeeze it well in a colander, and then pound
it in a mortar, until it is recluced to a very line paste. It must
then be dried. When it is required for use, add to it some of the
solution of gum-arabic ; and keep it in a pot for use.
The paper made as above directed, when well dried, is pounded
in a mortar till it becomes a very line powder ; it is then put
into a tin pepper-box, and when any of the parts of Parrots' bills,
&c, are wished to have this powdered appearance, a little of the
solution of gum-arabic is washed over the part with a camel-
hair pencil, and the powder dusted on it and allowed to dry.
Take a stick of red sealing wax, beat it down with a hammer,
and then put it into a phial, with an ounce of strong spirit of wine,
which will dissolve it within four or live hours. It may be applied
to any part with a camel-hair pencil, and it will dry in less than
Black, yellow, and green, or indeed any color of varnish, may
be made from sealing-wax of these various colors.
To those unacquainted with the combination of colors, we
may mention, that a mixture of blue and yellow produces green;
pink and blue makes purple ; red and yellow, orange ; black, red,
and yellow, brown ; black and blue, gray. These may be varied,
in an infinity of shades, by either color predominating, and by
the addition of other colors.
LUTING FOR RENDERING BOTTLES AIR-TIGHT.
Red Ochre reduced into a fine powder.
Oil of Turpentine.
These must be melted over a fire in the following manner ; and
the vessel in which it is made should be capable of holding three-
times the quantity required, to allow room for boiling up. An
earthenware pipkin with a handle is the best thing for the purpose,
and a lid must be made of tin to fit it. The luting will be ren-
dered more or less brittle, or elastic, as the red ochre prevails :
The wax is first melted, and then the resin ; the ochre is then
added in small quantities, and stirred quickly with a spatula each
time. When all the ochre has been added, it must be allowed to
boil six or eight minutes ; the turpentine is then added, and briskly
stirred with the spatula, and continue to boil it. There is con-
siderable risk of the mixture taking fire, and should it do so, the
lid must immediately be put on the vessel to extinguish it.
To ascertain the consistence of the luting, a little must be, from
time to time, dropped on a cool plate, or flat piece of iron. If it
is too*soft, more of the ochre must be added to it ; and if too hard,
additional wax and turpentine.
TOW AND FLAX SLIVERS.
These are fillets of prepared tow and flax, of from one to three
inches in breadth. They are extremely uniform in their thick-
ness, being made to weight, and can easily be procured from any
flax-spinning mill, at a moderate price per pound weight.
METHOD OF MAKING ENAMEL-EYES FOR ANIMALS.
Much of the character and expression of animals depends upon
their eyes ; it will, therefore, be evident that great attention is
necessary in the artifical imitation of these.
In this operation, a pipe of baked earth is used, or a tube of glass
six or seven inches in length, at the end of which a little white en-
amel is placed. This is placed to the flame, so that it may be
blown. This enamel forms a globe, whose dimensions depend
upon the quantity of air introduced. When this globe is of the
size wished, we place in the middle, and perpendicularly to the
point of the pipe, the quantity of enamel necessary to form the
enamel. The second enamel is then incorporated with the first
by presenting it to the flame, while attention is paid to turn the,
pipe gradually round, so that the enamel may diffuse itself
equally, and the iris be exactly circular. If it is required that
this iris should be of various colors, like thai of man for ex-
ample, small filaments of enamel are distributed in diverging rays
of the suitable color ; the eye is then placed in the flame, until
these have incorporated with the iris, after which the pupil is
placed as before directed, and the glass applied as before directed.
During this operation, the globe is almost certain of sinking
98 ~ra^ tZLX*&^&^lZ?* %$£?T&SL
down, partly from the air escaping, partly from the heat, and
from the pressure which is used in applying the different sub-
stances : air must again be supplied from time to time to prevent
it from losing its form. This becomes particularly necessary
when glass is applied, and when it is extended over the whole
surface of the iris.
The eye having got its form and size, the pipe is taken away.
To effect this, after the air has been introduced, the entrance of
the pipe is stopped with the finger, and the back part of the eye
exposed to the flame ; when the air contained in the globe, and
rarified by the pipe, comes through at the place where the flame
has most action. This opening is prolonged by turning the point
of the flat pincers, or an iron-wire, all round the pipe ; one point
only is left by which the eye remains fixed. It is then warmed
equally all over, after which it is exposed to a gentle heat, and
when it again cools, it is separated from the pipe.
ARTICLES REQUIRED FOR SKINNING AND MOUNTING QUAD-
RUPEDS, BIRDS, REPTILES, AND FISHES.
1. A box containing scalpels of different shapes ; apair of scissors
with pointed blades, and two or three pointed forceps of dif-
ferent sizes, the extremities of one of which ought to be in-
2. Two flat pincers, or pliers, large and small.
3. A round pincer for turning wire.
4. A cutting pincer for wire.
5. A hammer. :; ^ 'v.
6. Two files. ' : : ; :: %l
7. A triangular.
8. Points for perforating holes.
9. A saddlers awl for drilling holes ; also various shoemakers
awls, which will be found useful.
10. Brushes of different sizes for putting the preservative on the
animals' and birds' skins, and for smoothing and dusting
11. An assortment of iron-wire of all sizes.
12. Flax and tow, coarse cotton. When these cannot be had, un-
twisted ropes or cords. A quantity of tow and flax slivers
for twisting round the leg-bones of small quadrupeds and
13. Some small hardwood meshes for assisting in stuffing.
INSTRUCTIONS TO TRAVELERS.
The best means of procuring livin g animals, is by applying to
the natives of the different countries, who are accustomed to their
habits, and the situation in which they are likely to be found,
and to take them in traps and snares. They are also more likely
to be able to find their retreats, so that they may take these ani-
mals in a young state, and also birds in their nests.
By thus securing animals while young, they are much more
likely to reach home in a living state. Every exertion should be
used to render them familiar, when, being habituated to the ap-
pearance of man, they will be more able to resist the effects of a
tedious sea voyage than those which have been taken when wild,
and are under a continued degree of excitement. Every care should
be taken to soothe and caress them ; and there is no animal whose
manners cannot be softened by gentle treatment. During fine
weather, they should be allowed to take exercise on the deck, as
nothing is so injurious to their health and growth as being long
pent up in a small cage. While thus confined, it will be obvious
that they require a much smaller portion of food then when they
can have sufficient room to exercise themselves. Many of these
animals are lost from over-feeding. Their diet should be given
with great regularity, but always in such quantity as they can
- Next to food, cleanliness is of the utmost importance, and if
this requires too much of the attention of those who are bringing
them home, it will be easy to procure the assistance of some of
the crew. And unless this is strictly attended to, there is little
chance of preserving their health,
When animals' skins are imported, it is also necessary to bring
the head and feet. Those of the mammalia, which can be put
into a barrel or bottle, should be preserved entire in spirits.
In the event of not being able to transport the carcase, the next
best thing is to bring the skeleton along with the skin. It will
not be necessary to mount these. All that is required is to boil
the bones, take off the flesh, and dry them. Afterwards all the
bones belonging to the same skeleton should be put in a bag by
themselves, taking care to fill up the bag with dried moss, or any
other substance which will prevent friction. The more effectual-
ly to secure this, the small and tender bones ought to be wrapped
100 THE TAXIDERMIST'S GUIDE.
in paper. It is of the utmost consequence that not a bone should
In shooting birds, it is of much importance not to use the shot
too large ; indeed, it ought to be proportioned, as nearly as possi-
ble, to the size of the bird to be shot at. When the bird is killed,
the blood must be carefully wiped away, and a little cotton must
be put into the bill to prevent the blood flowing from it to injure
the feathers. The wound should also be stuffed with cotton.
Birds should be skinned as soon as possible, as the feathers are
apt to fall off if kept too long. The os coccygis must be kept at-
tached to the skin. If several individuals of the same species be
killed, one should, if possible, be preserved entire in spirits, with
the whole muscles of the body. If the bird has a fleshy crest, it
ought to be preserved in spirits.
It is of the utmost consequence to procure the male, female and
young, and these at different ages besides, as many species are
subject to great variety, in their progress from the young to the
adult state. This is more particularly the case with Eagles and
Hawks, many of which have been described as different species
in their immature state. The eggs and nest should also be pro-
Reptiles.— The chief thing to be attended to in skinning reptiles
is not to injure the scales ; and in the Lizard kind, care must be
taken not to break the tail. But for all the smaller and middle
sized species, the best mode is to preserve them in spirits ; and of
the larger kinds which are skinned, the skeletons ought to be kept.
The flesh should be taken away with knives and scalpels as well
as possible, and the bones thoroughly dried, and packed in a box
with cotton or grass, and they can be articulated after they are
brought home. When the skeletons are too large, they may be
separated into convenient parts for packing.
Fishes. — Many species are common to all seas, but there are
a vast number which are quite local. Unless, therefore, the trav-
eler is certain of the frequency of those he meets with in his own
country, he ought to bring them home. River and fresh water
fishes generally are subject to great variety, every lake and river
having varieties peculiar to itself, which the experienced fisher, or
naturalist, can at once detect. It is, therefore, very interesting to
be possessed of these varieties.
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